The first cross country meet of the season for Española Valley High School turned into a three-team scrimmage, along with St. Michael's and Robertson high schools.

Aug. 25 was supposed to be the fourth annual Del Valdez Invitational, in honor of the longtime teacher and cross country/track coach, but some of the schools decided to attend a scrimmage at Pojoaque Valley High School instead.

“Pojoaque is having a scrimmage today also and I think they invited some teams that normally come to this race before we invited them,” Española head coach Aaron Salinas said. “We got together as coaches and decided to make this a scrimmage. That way, we can still save an open-date for another meet.”

Valdez, who coached at Española and four other high schools, was on site standing near the finish line congratulating all the runners as they finished the race. He was not upset about the lack of teams present.

“Ive taught for 58 years and coached for 62 or 63,” Valdez said. “I’m not disappointed. I come out here to watch some of my students because I still substitute and this is my life. It’s where my heart lies.”

The boys team was without top runner Ricky Padilla, who has a knee issue with no timetable for a return. Sophomore Terrance Sanchez led the way, finishing seventh out of 21 runners with a time of 19 minutes, 16 seconds.

“We all wanted to get together in one group and run together so we could score more points, but other schools started passing us up so I decided to pick up the pace,” Sanchez said. “I’m really happy with my time, it’s better than I did (all of) last year.”

The girls team was only able to field three total runners: Jayden Archuleta, Alysia Martinez and Megan Rael. Assistant coach Landen Elliott-Knaggs said they are hopeful to field a full team (at least five runners) before too long into the season. 

Archuleta finished ninth (24:01); Rael, 10th (26:28) and Martinez was 11th (28:34). There was just 11 total girls from all three schools.

The Sundevils and Lady Sundevils still got in some necessary work in preparation for the University of New Mexico Lobo Invitational this Saturday, to be held at the University’s North Golf Course.

The Lobo Invitational is one of the larger meets of the season — and Española, Pojoaque, Dulce and Mesa Vista High School are all scheduled to attend.




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