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Bulldogs Eliazar Granillo, right, and Julius Acosta keep pace with one another during the opening minutes of Artesia’s home meet Thursday at Jaycee Park.

Bulldogs Eliazar Granillo, right, and Julius Acosta
keep pace with one another during the opening minutes of
Artesia’s home meet Thursday at Jaycee Park. (Brienne Green – Daily Press)

Bulldog junior Eliazar Granillo made the Artesia High School cross country teams’ lone home outing of the season an exciting one Thursday at Jaycee Park, coming in first place overall out of a field of six teams’ worth of runners.

Granillo crossed the finish line five seconds ahead of second-place Martin Flores of Hagerman with a time of 16:55 to highlight a solid overall performance by the Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs in the Coach Mo and Marquise’ Weast Memorial Invitational.

“Eliazar has a lot of talent and has finally learned how to race, not just run,” Artesia coach Shelley Ebarb said. “Like any sport, there is strategy involved. You have to know your competitors – how fast they can run and how they race – then you have to figure out when and how to outrace them.”

The Bulldogs finished fourth overall as a team in the meet, while the Lady Bulldogs put together a third-place finish. The boys’ field consisted of Carlsbad, Roswell High and Alamogordo in first through third place respectively, as well as Goddard and Cloudcroft. In the girls’ division, Alamo and Carlsbad came in first and second, and Roswell High was fourth.

Julius Acosta wasn’t far behind Granillo Thursday for the Bulldogs, crossing in seventh with a time of 17:48. Kale Mauritsen came in 27th (20:10), Gabriel Montoya 31st (21:05) and Caleb Carnathan 37th (23:12).

“Our boys have had some minor issues with their hips, so we’ve backed off a little on their workouts the last couple of weeks,” said Ebarb. “They ran this race but not at full capacity. In spite of a minor setback this week with a sore knee, Julius Acosta finished in seventh place, just a little off his regular pace. He should be back 100 percent next week in Roswell.

“Kale was out of practice for a few days with a sore hip but managed to finish in 27th place. Also out for a few days was Gabriel, who is new to our program this year. Gabriel ran in Mora a couple of years ago before moving to Artesia last fall. Rounding out the varsity squad this week was Caleb. He just started running this year, and this was his first varsity race. This was actually the first meet all season that we were able to run a full varsity team. We lost over half the boys’ team last year to graduation and only have four new runners this year.”

Michaela Phipps, right, and Katelynn Sullivan make their way through the crowd during the varsity girls’ race. (Brienne Green - Daily Press)

Michaela Phipps, right, and Katelynn Sullivan make their way through the crowd during the varsity girls’ race. (Brienne Green – Daily Press)

On the girls’ side, Michaela Phipps led the charge for the Lady Bulldogs in eighth place overall with a time of 21:38, followed by Lauren Robson (14th, 22:38), Madilynn Moon (18th, 23:19), Katelynn Sullivan (19th, 23:25), Joslyn Madrid (20th, 23:26), Kimberlee Bennett (21st, 23:38) and Ali Mauritsen (27th, 24:18).

“The girls turned in a solid performance, finishing third overall,” Ebarb said. “Michaela was our top finisher, a full minute-and-a-half faster than she ran this course last year. Lauren finished in 14th, and even with a disappointing 20th-place finish for Madilynn, she was still over a minute faster than last year.

“Katelynn, Joslyn and Ali ran impressive races, almost two to three minutes faster than last year. Our big surprise for the year has been Kimberlee, who completed the course four-and-a-half minutes faster than last year. These girls ran all summer and are up at 5 a.m. running nearly every morning.”

In the junior varsity races Thursday, Lexi Montgomery came in third for the Lady ‘Dogs with a 24:45, Harley Kramer fifth (25:34) and Camille Douglas 22nd (31:15), while TJ Hogan was 46th and Ty Mitchell 52nd for the Bulldogs with respective times of 24:07 and 24:52.

“Lexi and Harley turned in impressive performances, and TJ and Ty continue to improve each week,” said Ebarb. “We’re hoping to be able to move them up to the varsity level by the end of the season.”

The Artesia squads were coming off of a much larger race Sept. 17 at the Ron Singleton Invitational in Carlsbad, where the Lady ‘Dogs came in seventh out of 13 teams. The ‘Dogs were unable to field a full team.

Phipps finished a solid 10th overall for the Artesia girls (21:05), followed by Robson (21st, 21:48), Moon (29th, 22:27), Sullivan (44th, 23:07), Madrid (48th, 23:11), Bennett (51st, 23:19) and Montgomery (76th, 25:07). Granillo placed 13th for the ‘Dogs (17:39), Acosta 25th (18:09) and Mauritsen 60th (19:41).

In the JV races, Mauritsen was 16th (24:15), Kramer 37th (25:44) and Douglas 83rd (31:18) for the Lady Bulldogs, and Hogan 82nd (22:24), Carnathan 94th (23:14) and Mitchell 129th (26:18) for the Bulldogs.

With another successful home meet behind them, the Artesia runners will now turn their sights to the NMMI Invite Saturday in Roswell.

“I think we host one of the best meets in the area each year, thanks to all the parents and volunteers,” said Ebarb. “David Conklin and his crew helped feed every participant, coach and bus driver. Thad Phipps always goes the extra mile to mark the course and provide the little extra things that set our meet apart from the others.”