Alamosa senior Samantha Hall charges up the final hill during Saturday's Zuni Invitational. She and the Mean Moose finished in third place as a team.
ZUNI, N.M.— The Alamosa High School Cross Country team spent the weekend getting a cultural experience and earning a lot of knowledge as they traveled to the Zuni, New Mexico, a small Native American reservation, to participate in the cross country invitational and learn about the lifestyles of the Zuni people.
The Zuni Invitational took place on Saturday morning and was one of the biggest, according to Zuni head coach Chris Carroll, who is a former Adams State College runner, as 12 teams took to the 3.05-mile course that is at the bottom of the Zuni Mesa. The high school varsity races followed a one-mile race by 75 elementary students, and a 1.5-mile race by middle school runners and junior varsity races.
The Alamosa Mean Moose squads both captured the third place medals as the boys finished with 122 points. The Lauguna-Acoma (N.M.) High School claimed the team title with 42 points while Shiprock (N.M.) took second place with 91 points. The Mean Moose finished just four points in front of Rehoboth Christian School (N.M) and just five points in front of Zuni (N.M.) High School as they had 126 and 127 points, respectively.
On the girl’s side, Shiprock won the team title by tallying just 67 points while Wingate (N.M.) High School finished in second place with 75 points. The Mean Moose tallied 141 points to finish just seven points ahead of Zuni with 148 points.
The first runner through the chute in the girl’s race was the junior Karlee Smith, who finished the race in seventh place as she finished the hilly and sandy course with a time of 21:44. Sophomore Nicole Broyles was just four places back in 11th place as she crossed the line in 22:07.
Sophomores Jordan Hicks and Zena Manzanares finished in 35th and 36th places, respectively as Hicks charged down the final straight away to cross the line in 24:17 while Manzanares finished in 24:20.
Sophomore Renee Meyers finished in 52nd place with a time of 25:58 while senior Samantha Garcia finished in 57th place out of 73 runners in the whole field. She crossed the line in 27:19.
On the boy’s side, the first Mean Moose runner was junior Ty Koenig, who finished in 12th out of 93 runners. He clocked a time of 18:09. Gavin Palmer was close behind in 16th place as he clocked a time of 18:20:23. Sophomore Jordan Villalva finished in 19th place with a time of 18:24.
Senior Zack Lopez clocked a time of 19:14 to claim 34th place while senior Chris Reveles finished in19:36.10 to nip his teammate, sophomore Ryan Martinez, who clocked a time of 19:36.60. They finished in 41st and 42nd place, respectively.
Sophomore Roman Romo finished in 64th place to wrap up the Mean Moose boys as he had a time of 20:53.
Tanner Martin, Matt Salazar and Dillon Vance competed in the junior varsity race for the boys while Madison Myers and Heidi Kritner competed for the girls.
After the meet was done, the cultural experience began as Carroll introduced the Alamosa team members to their host families that they would be spending Saturday night with. As the introductions began, you could see that the two teams were a little bit nervous about what to do.
"My favorite part of the meet was meeting the Zuni people," said Reveles. "They were all so nice with big hearts and I hated to leave. I know that this experience will bring us closer as a team."
After a quick trip to their respective homes both teams regrouped at one of the Zuni team member’s houses to have a barbecue where the Alamosa athletes were treated to food they were used to such as hamburgers and hot dogs and some cultural food. Some of the dishes that they were introduced to were lamb soup, some of the jalapeño peppers, several corn dishes, Zuni bread and even some desserts such as moon pie pudding.
“I definitely enjoyed the barbecue the best,” commented Martinez. “It was fun to get to know the people of Zuni and play a friendly game of football and their game called the ‘Res Game’.”
After the meal the athletes were treated to speeches about the Zuni culture and learned games and even played a friendly game of football. After the games were over, the athletes each went to their respective homes where they learned even more.
“The weekend was a blast. I feel like we came together more as a team,” said Broyles. “My favorite part was going into the Zuni’s homes and learning about their ways and becoming good friends with them.’
“When I first arrived in Zuni I was very apprehensive but as I began to learn about their culture and become friends with the other teammates from Zuni I realized how alike all high school students can be,” added Hicks. “At the end of the trip I was very sad to leave because I was leaving behind many friends and great experiences.”
As a whole, the Zuni trip is one of the best for the Mean Moose to learn about other cultures and to bring the team closer together. As of now, Alamosa looks to host the Zuni team next year during the weekend of the Joe I. Vigil Invitational.
As the season begins to wind down, the Mean Moose will look to peak at just the right moment as there are just three meets remaining. The next meet will be the Eric Wolff Meet hosted by Sargent at the Monte Vista Golf Course this Saturday. Alamosa will then hit the course in Fountain Valley Monument Park as both boys and girls teams will attempt to qualify for the State Championship meet. The regional meet will be Oct. 21.