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The Lady Bulldog cross country team was impressive in their first meet of the season Thursday in Lovington, taking third place out of a field of 10 teams and placing a pair of runners in the top 10 individually.

“The kids did great,” head coach Shelley Ebarb said Saturday. “The girls were only six points behind Lovington, and they ran well. There’s still a lot of room for improvement, but they can get it done.”

Juniors Michaela Phipps and Madilynn Moon led the charge for the Lady ‘Dogs in eighth and ninth place respectively with times of 21:13 and 21:21. Lauren Robson finished 19th (22:11), followed by Katelynn Sullivan (30th, 22:37), Kimberlee Bennett (37th, 23:00), Joslyn Madrid (43rd, 23:21) and Ali Mauritsen (56th, 23:58).

Taking top honors in the girls’ division was Lubbock Cooper. Artesia came in 16 points ahead of fourth-place Carlsbad, also besting Hobbs, Odessa Permian, Denver City and Slaton.

The Bulldogs, meanwhile, were unable to field a full varsity team at the meet due to injuries but had three solid individual runs from Julius Acosta (12th, 17:14), Kale Mauritsen (23rd, 18:01) and Gabriel Montoya (41st, 19:10).

“Eliazar Granillo and Isaac Lopez didn’t run due to sore hips, but we hope to have them back next week,” Ebarb said. “Once we get all five boys running, I think we’ll do well. I think we would have finished third or fourth if we’d had our full team.”

Hobbs took the boys’ division, followed by Lovington, Odessa Permian, Roswell, Carlsbad and Slaton.

In the JV division, Harley Kramer placed 10th out of 90 runners for the Lady ‘Dogs with a time of 23:53, Lexi Madrid was 18th (24:42), Camille Douglas 63rd (27:50) and Tori Coss 78th (29:41). For the Bulldog JV, Caleb Carnathan finished 69th out of 140 runners (22:34), TJ Hogan 83rd (23:40) and Ty Mitchell 94th (24:38).

The Artesia runners will head to Roswell Saturday for their second outing, the NMMI Invitational, and Ebarb hopes to see two full squads working to improve their times.

“I’m hoping those two boys will be able to run, and with the girls, we’re hoping to close the gap from the first runner to the fifth,” said the coach.