Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Prep cross country: West, Futey shine at Metro Championship

Runners make their way around the course during Saturday’s Metro Cross Country Championships at Nusenda Community Stadium. (Mike Sandoval/For the Journal) The gloomy weather was out of the ordinary this season. The winners were not.

Sandia’s Steven West and Cleveland’s Leah Futey on Saturday ran to victories at the drizzly — but only marginally soggy — Albuquerque Metro Cross Country Championships at Nusenda Community Stadum.

Rio Rancho’s boys and Cleveland’s girls were the team champions.

West faced a rare challenge — “unexpected,” the Matador senior said — from Volcano Vista’s Thomas Croshaw. Those two had a large lead most of the way, but it was West, the New Mexico’s dominant 5A runner, who ultimately had the better late kick and won the 5-kilometer race in 15 minutes, 38.4 seconds.

Croshaw finished in 15:43.3.

“I haven’t speeded like that in a long time,” Croshaw said to West.

Croshaw even briefly passed West in the middle portion of the race, a move that definitely got West’s attention.

“A good thing in the end,” West said. He added with a smile, “It crushes my hopes of an easy win at state, because he’s gonna be right there. … It’s a lot more exciting and terrifying (when someone is pushing you), but it really gives you the drive. I’m glad he was there.”

The third-place runner, Cody Sullivan of Rio Rancho, finished 50 seconds behind Croshaw.

But Sullivan and his Ram teammates carried off the humongous metro trophy. Collyn Tomoyose of the Rams was fourth, Mason Steel sixth, Mateo Herrera seventh and Skyler Galbraith ninth as Rio Rancho scored 29 points.

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Volcano Vista (46) and Cleveland (95) were second and third, respectively.

Futey led from nearly the first step, following her blueprint this season of opening up an early lead and putting everyone else in chase mode.

Her winning time was 18:34.0. Dani Figueroa of Albuquerque High was a distant runner-up (19:15.9), and Addison Julian of Albuquerque Academy placed third.

The Storm and Academy both scored 62 points in the team standings, but Cleveland had the edge for first as its sixth-place runner was 30th and the Chargers’ sixth-place runner was 34th. The margin was that slim.

KUYKENDALL COMMITMENTS: Hope Christian senior Rendon Kuykendall has hardly been seen this fall as he deals with an injury, but he was on hand Saturday as a spectator.

And he had some news: he has committed to Duke University.

“The coaches over there are great, and they’re building something really cool,” said Kuykendall, last year’s Class 4A state champion. “A lot of kids from New Mexico don’t get to go to an academic school like that. That’s the one that made the most sense (for me).”

Princeton and Stanford were among the other schools Kuykendall was looking at.

“I wanted to get something brand new and I think it’s good for kids to get away,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kuykendall, who competed at the season-opening meet at Cleveland, hasn’t been at full strength and has missed most of the season.

But he said Saturday he expects to return in time for Hope’s district meet at the end of the month, and said he expects to be able to try and defend his 4A state title on Nov. 5.

Now he knows where he’ll be a year from now.

“The ACC is getting really good … Duke is not exactly the best team right now, but it’s gonna take some time to build something,” he said.

UP NEXT: Albuquerque Academy is hosting its pre-state extravaganza meet next Saturday, and the event is expected to draw a large number of the state’s top runners.

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