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Sanchez leads LA boy's cross country to third place

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By Jose Corral

Since the Lobo Invitational, it was clear that Rafael Sanchez was the future of the Los Alamos boy's cross country team, but Saturday proved that Sanchez has the potential to be the future of cross country in New Mexico.

The eighth-grade standout led the Hilltoppers to a third place finish at the Class 5A state cross country championships at Rio Rancho High School.

"Los Alamos... what more can you ask for than to run with them," Sanchez said. "We have great coaches and a great organization."

Los Alamos, which finished with 76 points, placed behind champion Albuquerque Academy and Kirtland Central. Individual champion Jordan Lesansee led the Chargers, who won their second-consecutive state title. The Broncos had the second-best runner of the race in Kashon Harrison.

Sanchez finished in fourth place individually with a time of 16:41.65. Midway through the race, he made a move past Academy's Mark Harrington that proved to be enough to give Los Alamos its 12th-consective season with a top-five individual state finisher.   

"He (Harrington) was really gaining a lead so I decided to make a leap of faith of just go for it," Sanchez said. "I didn't really like the beginning of the race. But the middle and the ending were really good." 

Academy's 39 points were also made possible by Aric Kedge (6th), Julian Garcia (13th) and Skyler Forman (14th).

Kirtland Central also had two other finishers in the top-10.

Los Alamos senior Chris Buntain was the second-best Hilltopper finishing in 16th place. Kevin Parkinson (17th), Shawn Williams (19th) and Josh Strevell (20) were the other scorers for Los Alamos.

Buntain, Miroslav Betts (22nd) and 37th place finisher Kai Coblentz were the only seniors who ran for Los Alamos on Saturday.

"I can't wait to be better and just get better as it goes," Sanchez said.