The Taos High School varsity cross-country squads put in work on Saturday morning (Oct. 12) when it competed in the Northern New Mexico Challenge at the Pojoaque Wellness Center.

At the end of each race, the first five runners of each team combine times to determine which school places where on the final standings. The Taos boys had a second-place finish as a unit, while the girls' varsity squad finishes in third place, respectively.

Alyx Mastor, a runner for the Taos girls cross-country squad and also a sophomore, broke away early on in the race and, by the end of it, zoomed past most of her competitors with ease. She finished with a time of 19:37.51, good enough for first place individually in the girls varsity race.

For the boys varsity squad, Taos saw junior cross-country runner Eddie Duran finish in second place individually with a time of 16:59.04.

Taos cross-country head coach Bruce Gomez said it was Duran's best time to date.

Duran said that leading up to his race that he felt nervous because it was unfamiliar terrain, but that he was determined to finish strong in the end.

"I was feeling a little nervous," Gomez told the Taos News. "But other than that, I saw a couple of friends I met over the years from track and cross-country and two of them last meet beat me, so I was determined to beat them."

Taos had other runners finish with good placing, too, and Gomez was happy overall with how his runners performed.

"I was very pleased today," Gomez said. "I think the workouts are coming on. … They're right up at the top tier of the state right now."

The girls varsity race was the first of the morning, and it got its start a little after 8:30 a.m.

Mastor -- along with a runner from Santa Fe who started off slightly ahead of her -- got out to an early lead when the runners ran across the grass field and left onto Lightning Loop, which was a road comprised of dirt.

Mastor said she found her groove early on in the race, and by that time she found herself ahead of the other runners by a good chunk of time and distance.

The boys varsity race, in comparison, had a much tighter start to the beginning of it.

When the gun fired off to signal the start of this race, the runners were grouped together for much of the beginning of it, including the steep road, Lightning Loop, where they had to make their first turn left.

Duran said that running uphill was no problem, as Gomez has trained them for that type of terrain before.

"It was something I was prepared for thanks to Bruce [Gomez]," Duran said. "Over the summer and even now, we run a lot of hills, flats - we just do like a bunch of different terrain."

By the end of the boys varsity race, the first few runners had made their way down the hill and back toward the track where the finish line was. Duran was among them, and he finished in second.

Other runners who placed in the girls varsity race for Taos included Ella Katz, who finished fourth individually with a time of 20:22.56; Marielle Gomez, who finished in 10th place with a time of 21:06.71; Kelly Tonrey, with a 30th place finish; Salome Borrego-Marsh, who finished in 33rd place; and Kai Duchananois, who finished 54th overall.

For the boys varsity race, Taos saw Elliot Moltz finish 17th with a time of 17:53.62; Duncan Stewart-Jackson with a time of 17:54.15, which was good enough for 18th place; Jonathan Evans in 26th with a time of 18:13.70; Joe Trujillo in 27th place with a time of 18:14.28; and Nathaniel Martinez, who finished 48th individually.

The Taos cross-country team will look ahead to the Río Rancho Jamboree, which takes place on Saturday (Oct. 19). Both the girls and boys teams will compete.

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