Category Archives: Colt & Lady Colt Cross Country

Walker takes fourth at state cross country

Sierra Walker paces herself along the Rio Rancho course that saw her take fourth at state.

Sierra Walker paces herself along the Rio Rancho course that saw her take fourth at state. Photo courtesy David Sanchez

NMMI Sports Press

Sierra Walker is just steps away from crossing the finish line at the state cross country meet Saturday. Photo courtesy David Sanchez

Sierra Walker is just steps away from crossing the finish line at the state cross country meet Saturday. Photo courtesy David Sanchez

RIO RANCHO — It wasn’t gold, but Colt senior Sierra Walker was happy with the fourth-place finish she earned at the state cross country meet in Rio Rancho Saturday.

“I was pretty happy because last year I finished 39th, so I moved up 35 places,” the Roswell native said. “I think I did well. It was a pretty good ending to my season overall.”

The senior has competed at the state meet since she was a freshman, with her highest finish before Saturday 33rd as a freshman in Class AA.

Walker’s fourth-place finish was the best state placing for a NMMI runner in a number of years, with only East Mountain’s Aubri Wrye and two Taos runners ahead of her. And, early in the race, the Colt was out in front, despite running on a muddy course.

Sierra Walker was all alone, in front, for the first mile of the state cross country race. Photo courtesy David Sanchez

Sierra Walker was all alone, in front, for the first mile of the state cross country race. Photo courtesy David Sanchez

“I led the race for the first mile,” she said. “I thought for a second I was not going the right way because I was the only person up there and I didn’t see anyone else behind me. So I was like, ‘Am I going the wrong way or something?’ But I just kept going, then coming up on the 1-mile mark three girls passed me. They stayed together pretty much the whole race and I kind of fell behind.”

But not that far behind. Walker’s time was 19:54.05, just 44 seconds behind Wrye.

While Sierra Walker was the only NMMI runner to qualify for the state XC meet, she had lots of family and friends there to cheer her on.

While Sierra Walker was the only NMMI runner to qualify for the state XC meet, she had lots of family and friends there to cheer her on. Photo courtesy David Sanchez

The state meet capped a season that saw Walker get six first-place finishes, including a district title and while she couldn’t get a season sweep in the No. 1 slot, she did get one final time on the podium.

“I always like being there because you know you accomplished something, standing there with everybody looking at you and taking pictures. It’s a good feeling.”

Next up for Walker is Lady Colt basketball, then she’ll close out her senior year running the distance races with the track team.

Sierra Walker on the podium after taking fourth place at state.

Sierra Walker on the podium after taking fourth place at state. Photo courtesy Katie Dollahon

Walker wins district XC title; headed to state

The three Lady Colts running in the district meet — Sierra Walker, Mia Walker and Abigail Valadez — head out at the start of the race.

The three Lady Colts running in the district meet — Sierra Walker, Mia Walker and Abigail Valadez — head out at the start of the race.

Karen Boehler
NMMI Sports Press

Senior Sierra Walker took home her first district title Friday.

Senior Sierra Walker took home her first district title Friday.

SANTA CLARA — The bright orange, smiling pumpkins that lined the course at the District 4-4A cross country meet in Santa Clara couldn’t disguise the fact that the three-mile route was anything but cheery.

“It was just really awful,” said Colt Sierra Waker. “A lot of sharp turns, uphill, and a lot of rocks popping out of the ground. It was terrible.”

Despite that — and Walker was in the majority in describing the course as brutal — the senior won her sixth-straight race this season, earning her first district title. And again, despite the toughness of the course, she made it look easy, coming in 36 seconds ahead of Cobre’s Skylar Jones, who was running on her home course.

Byron Mitchell sprinted past two runners at the end of the race to finish in 19th.

Byron Mitchell sprinted past two runners at the end of the race to finish in 19th.

“It’s a great accomplishment for her,” said Colt coach Jan Olesinski. “She ran great. She started strong, she kept going and she never quit.”

Walker finished the race in 20:30.32, starting in front and never looking back.

“Coach told me to just start out hard and that’s what I did,” she said. “I just sprinted out of the box and kept ahead the whole time.”

Ryan Cuellar celebrated his 16th birthday by finishing 35, the second fastest Colt.

Ryan Cuellar celebrated his 16th birthday by finishing 35, the second fastest Colt.

But with the hills and rocks — even the few spectators who ventured out on the course were having a hard time navigating — how did she make it look so easy?

“When it’s flat, I just stretch my legs out and stride out. So that’s the only way I can gain some distance,” she said.

The rest of the girls race was dominated by Hope Christian, which had five runners in the top 10 and eight in the top 20. They easily won the team crown, with Silver and Cobre — both local schools — coming in second and third.

Freshman Mia Walker finished 19th, just missing a slot at state, while Abigail Valadez struggled with the hills but finished a respectable 36th.

Junior Joel Suro had a steady race on the steep, rocky course, finishing 38th.

Junior Joel Suro had a steady race on the steep, rocky course, finishing 38th.

The Colt boys were sixth as a team, with the Huskies taking the boys’ district title as well. Silver High took second. Moriarty and Ruidoso tied for third in points, but the the Pintos edged out the Warriors on the strength of their sixth runner. Host school Cobre placed fifth.

Individually, senior Byron Mitchell finished 19th in 20:31, despite missing several races in the middle of the season with an injury. He picked up two places late in the race when he passed runners from Moriarty and Silver just before the line.

“He ran a very good race,” Olesinski said. “I think if it hadn’t been for his injury, he might have qualified for state.”

Ryan Cuellar, who was celebrating his 16th birthday, finished 35th; Joel Suro 38th and senior Michael Warungi 42nd. The final three Colts — Miles Laurence, Jeremy Piñon, and Nathan De La Cerda — fell prey to another problem on the course: unmarked turns. They, along with two runners from Socorro and one from Moriarty, took a wrong turn, and ended up going an extra mile and a half before they got back on course.

Senior Michael Warungi finished up his high school cross-country career in 42nd.

Senior Michael Warungi finished up his high school cross-country career in 42nd.

Walker is the only NMMI runner to qualify for next week’s state meet, but both she and her coach think she could win it all.

“I’m starting to believe I’m going for a state championship. I’m going to try for it,” she said.

“State is state. You never know,” Olesinski said. “If she’s smart and has a good race, I think she has a chance.”

Walker will run on the state course in Rio Rancho beginning at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 5.

District 4-4A cross country results

Boys, team — 1, Hope Christian, 36; 2, Silver, 51; 3, Moriarty, 79; 4, Ruidoso, 79; 5, Cobre, 96; 6, NMMI, 170; 7, Socorro, 186

NMMI individual — 19, Byron Mitchell, 20:31; 35, Ryan Cuellar, 22:47; 38, Joel Suro, 23:22; 42, Michael Warungi, 24:40; 47, Miles Laurence, 42:25*; 48, Jeremy Piñon, 42:27*; 50, Nathan De La Cerda, 42:52*
* extra time due to course mistake

Girls, team — 1, Hope Christian, 32; 2, Silver, 68; 3, Cobre, 89; 4, Ruidoso, 102; 5, Moriarty, 147

NMMI individual — 1, Sierra Walker, 20:30.32; 19, Mia Walker, 24:32; 36, Abigail Valadez, 26:40.

Two more strong finishes for Lady Colt runners

Lady Colts Mia, left, and Sierra Walker got two more first place finishes at a cross country meet: Sierra in the varsity and Mia in the JV.

Lady Colts Mia, left, and Sierra Walker got two more first place finishes at a cross country meet: Sierra in the varsity and Mia in the JV.

NMMI Sports Press

Sierra Walker on the course at Harry McAdams Park.

Sierra Walker on the course at Harry McAdams Park.

HOBBS — It was another one-one finish for a pair of Lady Colt runners Thursday, as senior Sierra Walker won the girls varsity race at the Hobbs Cross Country Invitational, while sister Mia Walker, a freshmen, won the JV race.

And they did it at a meet hosted by a 6A team that included other 5A and 6A teams as well as more than a half-dozen Texas teams and several hundred runners.

Sierra finished the three-mile race in 18:19, just a few seconds slower than she ran Saturday at the Pecos Valley Invite. It was her fifth individual title in as many races this year. Abigail Valadez ran in her first varsity race of the season, finishing 58th in 23:55.

Byron Mitchell was the top NMMI finisher in a tough group of runners.

Byron Mitchell was the top NMMI finisher in a tough group of runners.

Mia Walker picked up 12 seconds in her second race of the season, winning the JV race in 21:01.

Seniors Byron Mitchell and Michael Warungi both ran in the boys varsity, with Mitchell taking 53rd and Warungi 83rd. Ryan Cuellar was the top Colt in the boys JV, finishing 43rd, with Laurence Miles 69th; Jeremy Piñon 82nd; and Nathan De La Cerda 105th.

Coach Jan Olesinski was happy with the finishes at the strong meet.

“Everyone did awesome,” he said.

The Colts will now take a week off to prepare for the District 3/4-4A meet, which is set for Oct. 28 in Cobre.

NMMI results at the Hobbs XC Invitational

Girls, varsity
Individual
— 1, Sierra Walker, 18:19; 58, Abigail Valadez, 23:55

Junior varsity
Individual
— 1, Mia Walker, 21:01

Boys, varsity
Individual
— 53, Byron Mitchell, 19:01; 83, Michael Warungi, 21:48

Junior varsity
Individual
— 43, Ryan Cuellar, 20.14; 69, Laurence Miles, 21:29; 82, Jeremy Piñon, 22:25; 105, Nathan De La Cerda, 27:58

Abigail Valdez had a good time in her first varsity race.

Abigail Valdez had a good time in her first varsity race.

Mia Walker celebrates after winning her race.

Mia Walker celebrates after winning her race.

Walkers take titles at Pecos Valley Invite

Lady Colts Abigail Valadez, left, Mia Walker and Sierra Walker all placed for the Colts at the Pecos Valley Invitational cross country meet Saturday. Sierra took first in the girls varsity with Mia taking the title in the JV division. Valdez was eighth in the JV.

Lady Colts Abigail Valadez, left, Mia Walker and Sierra Walker all placed for the Colts at the Pecos Valley Invitational cross country meet Saturday. Sierra took first in the girls varsity with Mia taking the title in the JV division. Valdez was eighth in the JV.

Karen Boehler
NMMI Sports Press

Colt Byron Mitchell keeps pace with a Ruidoso runner early in Saturday's varsity race. Mitchell was the top finisher for the NMMI boys.

Colt Byron Mitchell keeps pace with a Ruidoso runner early in Saturday’s varsity race. Mitchell was the top finisher for the NMMI boys.

A pair of Walkers took the titles at the Pecos Valley Cross Country Invitational Saturday, with Sierra Walker winning the girls varsity race and younger sister Mia Walker winning the JV. And on top of that, Abby Valadez also medaled (finishing eighth) in the JV race.

“We had three girls and all three medaled,” said coach Jan Olesinski.

Sierra Walker’s time of 18:06.99 on a three mile course at Enchanted Hills Park was “awesome. It’s a great run, there’s no question about this,” Olesinski said.

The senior has won every race she’s run in this season, and said her goal is to continue, at least until state.

Freshman Brandon Guerro couldn't quite keep up with junior Byron Mitchell Saturday, finishing 20 seconds behind.

Freshman Brandon Guerro couldn’t quite keep up with junior Byron Mitchell Saturday, finishing 20 seconds behind.

“I’m just going to try to keep winning all my races and just try to do well at state,” she said. “I actually plan to place top 10 at state.”

She has two more races before the big meet: at Hobbs Thursday then at the District 4 A-4A meet in Cobre Oct. 28.

Saturday’s race was a big one, with runners from 6A schools down to 1A, but for Walker, the school’s size isn’t a factor.

“We’re all running the same race,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if I’m from a 1A school or 6A. We’re all going to run the same.”

The Colt senior, who’s considering running for NMMI as a Bronco, spent a month last summer in Poland training with Olesinski and Bronco runner Katarzyna Rosikon. And she credits that with her improvement.

Joel Sura leads Brandon Guerro early in Saturday's 3-mile run.

Joel Sura leads Brandon Guerro early in Saturday’s 3-mile run.

“It’s all coach O, honestly,” she said. “I went to Poland with him and trained with him for a month. I think that has helped me a lot.”

Little sister Mia won the JV race in 21:13.14 and Valadez was in eighth in 22.56.05.

Considering the two JV runners just wrapped up volleyball season Tuesday, “That was a good time for them,” Olesinski said.

The boys didn’t take home any medals, but running for only the second time this season as a full team, they finished seventh in the varsity, led by Byron Mitchell in 18:23.93 and freshman Brandon Guerro in 18:46.21.

Michael Warungi pushes to the finish line.

Michael Warungi pushes to the finish line.

“They ran good,” Olesinski said. “It’s good training for them. They ran with good runners. But they competed well. I was pleased with everybody’s performance.”

NMMI results at the Pecos Valley Invitational

Girls, varsity team — 1, Alamogordo, 27; 2, Lovington, 53; 3, Artesia, 75; 4, Ruidoso, 103; 5, Cloudcroft, 139; 6, Goddard, 150; 7, Tucumcari, 175

Individuals — 1, Sierra Walker, 18:06.99

JV, team — 1, Lovington, 26; 2, Hagerman, 33

Individuals — 1, Mia Walker, 21:13.14; 8, Abigail Valadez, 22:56.05

Boys, varsity team — 1, Lovington, 49; 2, Roswell, 50; 3, Alamogordo, 82; 4, Artesia, 96; 5, Ruidoso, 108; 6, Goddard, 154; 7, NMMI, 168; 8, Cloudcroft, 199

Individuals — 22, Byron MItchell, 18:23.93; 28, Brandon Guerro, 18:46.21; 42, Joel Sura, 20:18.77; 44, Michael Warungi, 20:28.58; 47, Ryan Cuellar, 21:05.80; 51, Laurence Miles, 22:27.80; 52, Jeremy Pinon, 22:41.58

Laurence MIles, left, and Jeremy Piñon keep pace early in the race.

Laurence Miles, left, and Jeremy Piñon keep pace early in the race.

Jeremy Piñon was excited to meet Roswell native and 2016 Olympic pentathlete Nathan Schrimsher.

Jeremy Piñon was excited to meet Roswell native and 2016 Olympic pentathlete Nathan Schrimsher.

Walker, Guerro get more top finishes

Sierra Walker isn't in front at the start of the Artesia race, but she was by the end.

Sierra Walker isn’t in front at the start of the Artesia race, but she was by the end.

NMMI Sports Press

Brandon Guerro won the boys JV race with a time faster than a lot of varsity runners.

Brandon Guerro won the boys JV race with a time faster than a lot of varsity runners.

ARTESIA — The Colt cross country team had another solid day Thursday, with Sierra Walker and Brandon Guerro each earning a first-place finish at the Coach Mo and Marquise’ Weast Memorial Invitational in Artesia.

Running against teams from Class A through 6A, Walker won the girls varsity in 19:39, which coach Jan Olesinski said, “was a great race. She was behind the leader for about two miles then after that took off. So she ran a very smart, very good race.”

And while it’s tough to tell how she did compared to other races — “Every course is different, so it’s very hard to say,” Olesinski said, “But the time, 19:39 for this course is very good.”

It was Waker’s third title in as many races this year.

The NMMI JV boys take off at the start of the race.

The NMMI JV boys take off at the start of the race.

Guerro won the boys JV with another solid time that again would have had him finishing near the top of the varsity race.

“Brandon also ran a very good race,” Olesinski said. “He was kind of behind, and after two miles he just kind of took off.”

Sierra Walker is all alone as she comes into the final turn before the finish.

Sierra Walker is all alone as she comes into the final turn before the finish.

And while the senior and freshman had the best runs of the day, Olesinski was also pleased with the rest of his squad. Only Byron Mitchell, who was coming off several days of illness, didn’t have his best meet.

NMMI fans will have a chance to watch the Colts run in Roswell Oct. 8 when they compete in the Pecos Valley Invitational.

NMMI results at Artesia Invitational:

Girls varsity
Individuals — 1, Sierra Walker, 19:39; 30, Andrea Anchondo, 24:49

Boys varsity
Individuals —
34, Byron Mitchell, 22:09

Junior varsity
Individuals —
1, Brandon Guerro, 19:31; 13, Ryan Cuellar, 20:49; 26, Miles Laurence, 22:05; 45, Jeremy Piñon, 24:00; 58, Nathan De La Cerda, 25:21