By Thomas Garcia: Quay County Sun
The Tucumcari Rattlers cross country team’s girls placed third overall and the boys placed eighth overall at last Saturday’s East Mountain invite.
Their victories were unexpected and a boost to the fledgling team.
Rattlers Coach Gary Hittson said, “When we got to the East Mountain invite Rio Rancho was there. They had about 40 girls and boys running and there we were with only five boys and three girls. The kids were intimidated at first but they got out there and ran hard.
“When it was over, they were tired and a little down. But when I went to check the standings, I saw the girls took third and ran back to tell them. They were excited. We beat Santa Rosa, Pecos and Estancia. So, that really pumped them up.”
Getting a Rattler cross country team on track has been a challenge.
“We have tried to get the team going for about four years,” Hittson said. “The kids have worked really hard. This is their first year running and they haven’t had the years or time to train like the other schools that have had a steady cross country team.”
Eighth-grader Lorri Harmon placed 11th over all and eighth grader Kennetha Perkins placed 22nd overall.
Now that the Rattlers have a team up and running, they are facing other challenges.
Two runners are out with injuries. Senior Theresa Chacon and junior David Atwood are recovering from shin splints and are not expected to run in the next meet.
The team is on a learning curve and it needs to think about strategy, Hittson said. “They need to learn to race smart. The trail they run is narrow and it’s hard to pass on it. So, they need to get ahead of the rest and pace themselves for the rest of the race.
“I’ve told the kids that you don’t need to win every race but come away from it with something positive whether it’s lowering your finishing time or raising your placing at the end of the race.”
The Rattlers cross country team’s next run will be at 10 a.m. on Saturday at New Mexico Military Institute at Roswell.