Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Cross country coach hoping for more


August 28, 2019

Tucumcari’s cross-country coach is expecting better things from his squads after a disappointing season in 2018.

Both the boys and girls teams finished well out of the running during the Class 3A state meet last year. Both open their seasons at 3:30 p.m. Friday at the Clovis Invitational at Ned Houk Park.

Rattlers coach Gary Hittson said he’s guiding a total of nine runners on the boys team, with four strong competitors to anchor it — all-district sophomore Manny Hernandez, sophomore Ayden Lusk, freshman Curtis Gonzales and senior Joe Martinez.

Rounding out the rest of the Tucumcari boys roster are Andrew Henderson-Clark, Khobie Salvador, Tyrus McCaughtry, Britt Lusk and Alexander Lujan.

Unlike many other sports, having freshman and sophomore runners in cross country isn’t necessarily a liability.

“It’s usually the young ones who do really well at cross-country,” Hittson said. “Our boys look really strong this year.”

Tucumcari’s district includes Cobre, Socorro and defending champion New Mexico Military Institute, which Hittson expects to contend for the title again.

“At the district track meet, they had two really good distance runners, and I’m pretty sure they’ll run cross-country,” Hittson said of NMMI.

The Lady Rattlers are dealing again with a lack of depth, as the team has just five runners — the bare minimum.

However, Hittson said those five have run “really well” during preseason workouts.

On that squad are all-district runners A’Leaya Lucero and Erin Encinias., plus returners Ashley Shipley and Leslie Navarrete. A newcomer is Lizet Castillo.

“It’s going to be an interesting season,” Hittson said.

He said he expects NMMI to compete for the girls district crown, as well.

At the Clovis Invitational, Hittson said he doesn’t expect his teams to be too competitive there because they’re going against larger schools from Texas and New Mexico.

“We use it as a practice meet, more or less, for the new ones to get an idea how it goes,” he said.

He said the next meet at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Mora Invitational should provide a more accurate picture of where his teams stack up.

The district meet is scheduled for Nov. 1 or Nov. 2, but a location hasn’t been announced.


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