High school sports roundup: Homestretch edition

Questa and Peñasco athletes march on

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Peñasco cross-country

The Peñasco cross-country teams traveled to Río Rancho to participate in the Río Rancho Jamboree – an annual meet held on the campus of Río Rancho High School Oct. 14 this year. The jamboree is widely held as one of the largest invitational cross-country meets of the year in the state of New Mexico.

This year’s event swelled to include more than 100 teams of various sizes from the region in eight separate divisions, including boys junior varsity, boys small schools varsity, boys large schools varsity, boys championship, girls junior varsity, girls small schools varsity, girls large schools varsity and girls championship races.

The Lady Panthers fared well at the west mesa 5-kilometer course that will also serve as the state meet course, which will take place in less than one month. Peñasco ran in the girls small schools division and came in fourth as a team with a score of 96 – a 16-point improvement from last year, when the Lady Panthers scored 112. The top team in the division was Class 3A Cottonwood Classical Prep from Albuquerque, which had a score of 65 to defend its first-place finish a year ago. Two other Class 3A teams rounded out the top three, with the Pecos Lady Panthers placing second with 77 points, followed by the Academy for Technology and the Classics, coming in third with 79 points. The next A/2A schools behind the Lady Panthers was Navajo Pine High School, which came in 10th place as a team with a score of 282, and Ramah High School, which placed 12th with a score of 286.

Carly Gonzales was the top runner overall and for the Lady Panthers with a time of 20:54.00. This is the second consecutive win for Gonzales, who was the individual winner at the Northern New Mexico Challenge at San Ildefonso Pueblo Oct. 7. Gonzales was joined by Adrianna Tafoya, who came in 12th place with a time of 22:27.90; Maricella MacAuley, who placed 16th with a time of 22:33.50; Estrella Gonzalez, who was fourth for Peñasco and 35th overall with a time of 23:45.50; and Martina Tafoya, who rounded out scorers for the Lady Panthers with a 47th-place finish with a time of 23:55.50. Peñasco’s sixth- and seventh-placed runners were Ariana MacAuley, who placed 47th, and Jennifer Aguilar, who placed 59th. On top of improving their individual and team scores, the Lady Panthers also improved their average split times by 38 seconds. This means that as a team, all scoring runners picked up their speed and lowered their times from last year’s performance. There was a total of 132 runners in the field.

The Peñasco boys also participated in the Río Rancho Jamboree and posted a score of 335 as a team – fielding a full contingent of seven runners at this year’s meet. Gilbert Valdez led the Panthers with a 10th-place finish with a time of 18:05.07. He was followed by Dominic Lopez, who came in 62nd place; Jamie Muñiz, who placed 90th; Allen Pyne, who finished 107th; and Curtis Roque, who placed 108th. Donovan Mascareñas and Walter Brown also tackled the hilly course for the Panthers. There was a total of 159 runners in the boys small schools varsity division.

The Panthers and Lady Panthers are idle this week, but are scheduled to race again at the district meet at Maxwell High School Oct. 28.

Questa soccer

The Wildcats have really hit a dry spell, losing 10 straight games dating back to Sept. 11, when Questa defeated Desert Academy 4-2 at Alto Park in Santa Fe. Since the win, the Wildcats have only been able to produce six total goals during a losing streak when they played the Pojoaque Valley Elks Oct. 6 – losing 2-1. Since then, Questa has struggled to find the back of the net – losing to Santa Fe Prep Oct. 8, St. Michael’s Oct. 13 and Robertson Oct. 15.

The Wildcats played against the Taos Tigers at home after this section went to press Oct. 17.

Games continue today (Oct. 19), as the Wildcats take on the Monte del Sol Dragons at home. Questa will finish the season on the road against the Pojoaque Valley Elks for each team’s final game of the 2017 season Oct. 21.

The Wildcats are currently 1-14 on the season and 0-9 in district play.

Questa volleyball

The Lady Cats had their eight-game winning streak snapped with a 3-0 road loss to the Escalante Lady Lobos Oct. 14. Questa was coming off two convincing wins against the Mesa Vista Lady Trojans (3-0) Oct. 5 and the Peñasco Lady Panthers (3-1) Oct. 12.

Due to schedule changes and necessary home-and-home rotations, the Lady Cats will finish the remainder of their matches on the road. Games continue today (Oct. 19), as Questa travels to Mora to take on the Rangerettes and then to Ojo Caliente to play the Lady Trojans of Mesa Vista Oct. 21. Questa will wrap up the regular-season play against the Peñasco Lady Panthers Oct. 28.

“The girls are focused and playing with confidence,” said head volleyball coach Michelle Spears, who hopes to maintain a growth mindset and continue to get better, especially down the homestretch. “We want to minimize our errors and strive to be the best version of ourselves as a team.”

The Lady Wildcats are currently 9-5 on the season and 4-1 in district play.

Questa football

Due to injuries leading to a reduced number of players available for games, the Questa Wildcats football program forfeited its scheduled home game to the visiting Fort Sumner Foxes Oct. 13. Also, according to Questa Independent School District Superintendent Dr. David Albert, the Wildcats will not travel to Tierra Amarilla for their game against the Escalante Lobos Oct. 20, thus forfeiting that contest, too.

Consensus was reached from head coach Chris Torres, Albert and the players to concede the wins to the two district opponents in the name of player safety and realistic outcomes. The Wildcats are now at 0-7 on the season and 0-2 in District 1-2A play.

Football in Questa is in its 50th year, but recent team troubles have resulted in setbacks to the program. The abrupt departure of Jesus Maes, four-year coach and athletic director, in the summer of 2016 resulted in tepid player participation and a two-win season under interim coach Paul Passino, which included a forfeit win over Navajo Pine. The Wildcats have yet to win a game this year under Torres and have been blanked three times – twice succumbing to the “mercy rule.”

It is not known whether the final nonconference game against the McCurdy Bobcats will be played Oct. 28, as a final decision has not yet been made and it’s not clear whether sufficient numbers of players will be available to suit up as of press time Oct. 17.

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