Focused Wildcats breeze to 4-5A title

Brian Romero led a 1-2 finish for the Wildcats.

CNJ staff

ALBUQUERQUE — Brian Romero wasn’t about to finish second — even if it was at the expense of a teammate.
Pulling away from fellow Clovis High senior Matt Appelman in the final mile, Romero toured the gravel-strewn Bear Canyon Arroyo course in 16 minutes over three miles Saturday to win the District 4-5A boys cross country meet going away.
Appelman finished 14 seconds behind as the Wildcats placed four runners in the top 10 en route to an easy win in the five-team field.
The senior-laden Wildcats finished with 38 points, 21 better than runnerup Carlsbad. Eldorado and Manzano tied for third with 61 points, with Eldorado winning the district’s final state playoff berth on a tie-breaker.
“I couldn’t live with finishing second again,” said Romero, who finished second in district as a sophomore and first as a junior running for Sam Houston High in Arlington, Texas.
Romero said the Wildcats were on a mission because of what they feel is a lack of respect.
“We’ve been waiting for this all year long,” Romero said. “I think I lot of people have underestimated us.”
Romero and Appelman broke away from the pack early and pushed and paced each other until Romero surged at the end.
“They were all business today,” Wildcats coach Brian Stacy said. “Brian and Matt led from start to finish. Eldorado thought they could catch them at the second mile.
“They ran great.”
The Lady Wildcats also earned a trip to the Class 5A state meet Nov. 14 in Gallup by finishing third behind Eldorado and Manzano.
Sophomore Megan Willis finished seventh (20:32) with what her coach called a gutsy effort to pace the Lady Wildcats, while senior Melissa Clark (20:47) was ninth and freshman Tori Northcutt 11th (21:41).
“I knew they were going to be nervous, and that’s exactly what happened,” said Stacy, who said Clovis was aiming for a second-place finish behind Eldorado. “Megan went out there just on guts and Melissa Clark stayed in her hip pocket and ran a great race.”
JoJo Calderon of Carlsbad was the winner with a time of 19:33 over the same course as the boys.
Eldorado placed four runners in the top 10 and won going away with 30 points.