There were fewer participants from area high schools, but four distance runners turned in top performances at the state cross country championships last Saturday at Rio Rancho High School.

Estancia’s Jaimey Fastnacht, Manzano’s Emily Clarke, and East Mountain’s Rubie Trotter and Eero Ward all finished in the Top 10 in their individual races to take home all-state honors.

Fastnacht claimed fifth place in the Class 3A girls individual race with a time of 20 minutes, 59.65 seconds.

She expressed disappointment for finishing behind her third-place spots the last two years, but said, “I gave it what I could—I was working for it, I just waited too long to get that kick.”

Trotter finished 8th in the 4A girls individual race out of 93 total runners with a time of 20:50.75.

East Mountain’s Ruby Trotter on the final turn before the final stretch during the girls 4A state race.

Wearing Kinesio therapeutic tape on her right knee from an injury and limping noticeably after the race, Trotter said she was happy just to finish, adding, “The downhills were really hard, so I just kept looking ahead, but my knee’s kinda done.”

The 5K course winds around Rio Rancho High’s campus and includes several hills before ending on the school’s football field. “She was really tough today,” East Mountain head coach Dave Naylor said of Trotter.

Trotter’s teammates Marissa Case, who finished 17th, Amelia Johnson, and Ciara Wright helped contribute to East Mountain’s seventh-place team finish.

Ward, who passed three runners in the final 300 yards, took ninth place out of 96 runners with a time of 17:30.8. He out-sprinted a runner from Santa Fe Indian School down the final 100 yards, beating him by just 5/100 of a second.

“That was my last race ever, and once you cross the line it’s over,” Ward said. “So I was thinking, I might as well give it my all and be satisfied.”

“I’m happy for both those kids,” Naylor said. “Our goal was to do well with our seniors, and both got all-state.”

Clarke, an East Mountain resident, finished 10th in Class 6A with a time of 19:55.65. Her time placed her 17th overall out of all 436 girls in all classes.

Moriarty’s Wesley Olson running with the pack during the first mile of the boys 4A race.

Moriarty had no runners finish in the top-10, but Carson Springer placed 28th overall, and teammates Wesley Olson, Romello Dominguez, Santi Summers, and Ovedio Lujan helped the Pintos take ninth place as a team.

Moriarty’s only girl participant, Sowelu Lottimer, finished 60th. “I’m very satisfied, very pleased,” Moriarty head coach Tommy Negrete said. “All of the kids have improved.”

The overall number of runners and teams was drastically down from previous years, according to Naylor.

There were only 15 total runners from area schools.

Each school needs at least five runners with qualifying times to field a state team, though individual runners can participate.

East Mountain, with only two boys participating, didn’t have enough to field a boys team. Manzano, Moriarty and Estancia—each with only one girl participating—had no girls team; the Monarchs and Bears had no boys participate, and Mountainair had no participants at all.

“There’s not a lot of high-quality runners going out for cross, the depth just isn’t there,” Naylor said.

“It’s just not seen as a glorious sport, which is too bad,” Negrete said, adding, “But I tell the kids, everybody participates, no one sits on the bench.”

Leota Harriman
Leota Harriman

Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at news.ind.editor@gmail.com.