By Dave Wagner
Clovis High freshman Kelsey McNaughton was a bit stunned at how the girls race turned out in Friday’s season-opening Clovis Invitational at Ned Houk Park.
Coach Mark Bussen, on the other hand, was not.
McNaughton ran away from the field to win the three-mile event in a time of 20 minutes, 9.73 seconds as the Lady Wildcats dominated the 11-school meet, finishing with 23 points and six of the top 11 places to 74 points for runnerup Lubbock Cooper.
Hobbs won the boys team title with 30 points, six ahead of Lea County rival Lovington. Clovis finished fourth at 123.
“I thought I was going to get top 10, but I never thought I’d get first,” McNaughton said. “I thought (the next runner) was right there on my tail. It was crazy.”
Bussen said he had a pretty good idea going in that the Lady Cats would win it.
“The times and quality (of competition) was a lot more on the boys side,” Bussen said. “We’re a good team, but we’re not as good as we’ll need to be down the road.
“It was a great way to start off, but I’d say I expected coming in that we should win this meet.”
McNaughton said having the whole team finish as high as it did — in a field of 50 runners — was impressive. Junior Holly Steinle was next in line for the Lady Cats, finishing fourth in 21:12.42, while freshman Mya Borwick was sixth in 21:30.43.
“I’m proud of my team more than anything,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a great year.”
Bussen said her performance was impressive.
“She’s got a lot of skill, she’s a competitor and she enjoys what she’s doing,” he said. “I was pleased with the way she raced.
“Holly probably ran a lot better than I expected. She’s had some injuries in the past, but she’s pretty much recovered and ran a really good race.”
Hobbs and Lovington dominated boys competition, combining to take the top six positions. Meantime, the Cats were closely bunched as a team, with sophomore Dylan McNaughton — Kelsey’s brother — leading the way in 21st at 18:24.61.
All six Clovis runners were within a minute of each other.
“I was really pleased with Dylan McNaughton,” Bussen said. “It was the first race of his life, and it’ll build some confidence.
“I think our other guys will get better. It’s going to take this group a while to get an identity.”
Lovington’s Alexis Meta won the race in 16:40.26, but his team came up just short of its neighbors to the south.
Clovis teams return to action a week from today in the Bulldog Invitational at Plainview, Texas.