Cats breeze to invite title

CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth/Matt Appelman (right) and Brian Romero led Clovis to the team title at Saturday’s Clovis Invite at Ned Houk Park.

Dave Wagner

The conditions were far from ideal, but the results were satisfactory for Clovis High.
Senior Matt Appelman led a 1-2-3 sweep as the Wildcats cruised to their third consecutive boys team championship in the Clovis Invitational cross country meet at Ned Houk Park.
The Cats finished with 25 points to 42 for runner-up Amarillo High.
Meantime, Amarillo High dominated the girls division as usual with a near-perfect score of 17 while the Lady Cats were a distant second at 69.
With a gusty north wind howling at what CHS coach Brian Stacy said were gusts up to 41 mph, it made covering the 5-kilometer course hard work.
“The wind was ridiculous,” said Appelman, a first-time winner on the varsity level with a time of 16:52. “Every time you were running north, it was a killer.”
Brian Romero finished second in 17:03 and Tyrell Northcutt was third in 17:07, allowing the Cats to build up enough margin to hold off the Sandies.
“That’s what we were trying to do,” Appelman said. “We knew we needed a strong showing.”
Stacy said he was more than happy with the team’s performance.
“On a day like today, the guys ran fantastic,” he said. “The only time (the wind) really affected us was on the last mile. That’s when it hit us in the face.”
The Cats almost have a competition among themselves in most races as to who will be their top runner.
“There’s no telling who’s going to do it,” Appelman said. “There’s three of us that could lead us any time.”
Amarillo High took the top three and six of the top seven finishes in the girls race, led by winner Brigget Garza in a time of 19:51. Clovis came in No. 8 with freshman Tori Northcutt, who ran a time of 21:48.
“The girls ran fantastic again, (considering) the wind,” Stacy said. “Running this 5K is Tori’s strength; she’s a strong girl, and she’s coming along every week.”
The Lady Cats put four runners between 13th and 18th and had just enough to hold off Hobbs, which finished with 77 points.
Amarillo High dominated both junior varsity team events, with the Lady Sandies capturing the top 10 and 14 of the top 15 positions in the girls race.
Chris Maher of Clovis was second in the JV boys race in 19:13, 12 seconds behind winner Brian Nistler of Amarillo High.