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“Native American Perspectives on Life and Coaching”
Sunday, 29 October 2017 15:22    | Written by Administrator    PDF Print E-mail

A History

Around the Course and Down the Track with “Doc”

A Conversation with

Daniel Chinana (Indian Name: Tobacco Mound) Jemez Pueblo Anazai Descent – Jemez Valley

High School Hall of Fame

Bruce Gomez (Indian Name: Morning Walking) Taos Public Diné Descent – Taos High School Hall of Fame

Mike Gorospe (Indian Name: Little Mountain) Laguna Pueblo Western Keres Descent – Santa Fe Indian School Hall of Fame

“Native American Perspectives on Life and Coaching”

Doc: Who were the early pioneers of Native American Coaches in NM?

Daniel: As I was growing up, Joe Cajero was a pioneer coach of Native Americans. He had a running club in the 60’s known as the Jemez Running Club. We attended races all over New Mexico, races in Dulce, Father’s Day Runs, etc.

Bruce: For me, the early pioneers were actual athletes I would hear about—those many athletes I would hear about from the far and immediate past.

Mike: I am sure there were plenty of Native American coaches in all sports in Indian country in New Mexico before my time. I can speak of some coaches in my earliest recollection. In baseball at the Albuquerque Indian School was a gentleman by the name of Sam Arquero, he was from Cochiti. I remember him when the AIS came up to play us at St. Catherine’s Indian School. Then, another name associated with AIS was a Mr. Herman Agoyo Cata, San Juan. Further back in the late 40’s was a gentleman named Joseph Nicodemus Montoya from San Juan Pueblo (Okay-Owingah) who was listed as a coach/band teacher. My mother said he was a coach and band instructor at St. Michaels Indian Mission School in St. Michaels, Arizona, where I lived for a short time. Mr. Montoya was my grandfather.

Doc: As you were growing up, what do you remember that lent itself to your Native American heritage and the cross-over to the sports of cross country and track and field?

Daniel: I started running as a young child. Running alongside my two older brothers, Leo, who was an excellent runner in hurdles; my other brother Tito, who was a sprinter, would run from the south of the village where we had our sheep corral. In our tradition in the fall we have “foot races” which determine who is the fastest runner in a short distance of ½ mile to 2 miles.

Bruce: Running is a part of our culture, and it is so synonymous with track/cross country here in New Mexico and in the Southwest. Every tribe has some connection with running. It’s imbued in everything we do. I think every tribe and family have stories of runners in their past which makes up a huge part of who we are. So, going into this arena of sport was a very natural progression.

Mike: My elementary and grade school years were spent in Bluewater, NM, Laguna Day School and Los Lunas, NM. I cannot remember any one thing regarding running, and because my father was a migrant seasonal worker, we were constantly moving; and consequently, the Native cultural upbringing was primarily through my mother and occasional visits back to Old Laguna Pueblo. I do remember a boy running after the school bus one day in Bluewater and thought, what an awesome feat, just to run all that distance. He might have been a fourth or fifth grader; getting on the bus, he was sweating, but hardly out of breath. Another running related event happened at Los Lunas Grade School when our 6th grade teacher, Mr. Vivian Otero, because of an assembly running late, asked me and another student to go out to the playground field and stake out a running oval. He excused us from the assembly and told us where to find the hammer and stakes. I believe we staked out a 2 to 3-hundred-meter oval. I remember running the circuit a couple times before the rest of the students came out – so much for my introduction to track and CC.

Doc: Who were the Native American coaches or individuals who had a strong influence or mentored you?

Daniel: Growing up as a child attending the meeting halls, I listened to the elders speak of running, which is a part of life; they would send runners to other villages as a messenger, since there weren’t cars, bus, or shuttles back then.

Bruce: Most coaches who had a strong influence on me were non-native. My junior high and high school coaches were Fidel Torres, Ray Serna, Benny Gallegos, Leland Abreu, and Rudy Pacheco. A Native coach today is Steve Gachupin who I would read about as a kid; and I still get to see during the CC season. Another one is Mike Gorospe. It’s always so good to share his good-nature! As for athletes, Frank Shorter and Billy Mills were an amazing inspiration to me in addition to members of the Colorado Track Club. Collectively, it was the many teammates, fellow runners, and the athletes whom I have coached who have been a huge source of influence to me.

One person that comes to mind is our PE coach at the Intermountain School in Brigham City, Utah. Between our 1st and 2nd grades, about 30 of us were sent to summer school in Brigham City. We had never been away. It was a boarding school, and we later learned that it was run in military fashion – including marches down these very long hallways to breakfast and dinner. Then, there was the playroom – with loads of massive marble bags, bright red scooters, and toys of every imaginable color. It was also the first time I experienced what toothpaste tasted like! I do not remember our PE coach’s name. What I do remember is how he would take us out to the track and have us run one time around. The track seemed so immense and time literally stood still when we were making our way around it. It was my first memory of a track. In 2000, I drove to the Olympic Trials in Sacramento via Oregon, Washington state, and into California. I stopped in Brigham City and actually found the remnants of Intermountain School. It had been demolished and all that remained were outlines of the foundations. I actually was able to find where the track once was, and here I was now a high school track coach.

Another person who comes to mind is Benny Romero of Taos Pueblo. He was a trackman who would tell me stories of the great Adolph Plummer at University of New Mexico, and was the longtime PE teacher at Taos Day School. Though he did not coach me per se, I would go to his office in junior high, where he always had shelves of books and magazines like Scholastic Coach; and I would read these articles about training methods and of high school athletes in far away places like California and Illinois. I would be reading about the David Merricks and Terry Williams of the era (high school stars) in places like Lompoc High School or South Eugene High School. I would spend hours pouring over these articles, and he would even let me take some home to read. Many years later, a member of the Lompoc High team named Roger Hanson (who I had read about) and I ended up on the Colorado University team together during my freshman year!

Other immediate people who influenced me were some of the older guys from Taos Pueblo – the late Bernard Lujan who held the Taos High school record for 2 miles (9:57); Marcelino Trujillo – record holder for the mile (4:36); and John Archuleta 880 record holder – (1:59.2). I tried so hard to break those records and came up short. Others are my older cousins Sam Gomez and the late Ned Lawrence Gomez. They were so fast at our footraces! Then there were my teammates including Louis Archuleta (there are so many to name). Another one who comes to mind is the late Harry Mondragon (Taos/Laguna) from Santa Fe High. He and Ric Rojas had these epic duels in the sand that Ric still talks about today.

Then, there were the legends whom I would hear about, those stories coming out of Albuquerque Indian School and Santa Fe Indian School, for example, the Lujan brothers – Big Jim, Henry and Jimmy K, who all ran at Albuquerque Indian School in the 30’s, and who also all ended up at Bataan in WWII.

Mike: My earliest recollection of a track and field related coach was at Los Lunas High School in the early 50’s – the Coach’s name was Nick Madrid. I marveled at his attention to detail as he coached a high school jumper, measuring and marking the jumper’s distance at the cross bar. For some reason, I was at the high school before classes started in the morning. Coach Madrid’s patience and instruction with the jumper in the “Western Roll” technique was real intriguing to watch. I also watched a high school meet there when the Albuquerque Indian School participated and won the medley relay. The anchor was an Apache Indian, Dominic Peso, from Mescalero, New Mexico, coached by the legendary Coach Ken Freberg. I did my student teaching under Coach Freberg in the fall of 1965 in Physical Education and Chemistry under Lowell Smith.

My first encounter with a Native American coach was a gentleman by the name of Wilfred Toya who was Laguna/Jemez, graduated from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. Coach Toya was a PE teacher and coached flag football, basketball, and track at Gila Vista J.H. School in Yuma, Arizona. In high school at St. Catherine’s Indian School, Mr. Joe Abeyta (Laguna/Isleta) coached baseball and basketball. In track and field, Coach Bob Chavez (Cochiti Pueblo) coached me all four years. I certainly admired both coaches; and in Coach Chavez’s case, I saw a real sense of duty and commitment. He worked full time with the NM Highway Department at the airport in Santa Fe, but found time to coach full time in the mornings and after school. Mind you, I was not much of an athlete, barely a couple inches over 5 feet; Coach Chavez had me high jumping, pole vaulting, and middle distance running – a ‘62’ in the 440 and a 2:14 in the 880. At St. Joseph’s College on the Rio Grande (University of Albuquerque ’66), I had Coach Ernie Smith, Dr. Walter Neiderburger, and Mr. Joe Kloeppel in baseball. I happened to be in the gym in the spring of my freshman year when Coach Kloeppel asked me, “Aren’t you going out for baseball?” I had a glove in my vehicle, and so I played collegiate baseball for four years. I can say this with all honesty because I know it can’t be true: I’m the only Native American to play and letter in college baseball all four years and graduate.

After high school and college, I had several Native American coaching colleagues and associates whom I greatly admire. Coach Emmitt Hunt at Laguna-Acoma (Laguna) cross country and track and Coach Erwin Sice (Laguna) who I recommended to the sisters at St. Catherines coached cross country, basketball, baseball, and track. Coach Francis Abeyta, deceased, (Laguna-Isleta/Santa Clara) baseball, basketball, cross country, and track at St. Catherines. Coach Mike Parton football, basketball, and baseball at Albuquerque/Santa Fe Indian schools. Numerous other Native coaches are close associates and friends of mine, such as, Coaches Dan Chinana, Edwin Shije, Joe Cajero, and Steve Gachupin all at Jemez Publo. Randy Hunt from Laguna and Joe Aragon (Acoma) coached at Laguna and Grants. Then, there are Mike Daney at SIPI and currently Joe Calabaza and Ed Aragon, Santo Domingos, who both came from our SFIS running programs doing great coaching jobs.

Doc: How did your family influence you to get involved in cross country and track and field?

Daniel: As a child, my uncle Lizardo, who also was a sprint runner, encourage me to run; he would say running is a part of life, our tradition.

Bruce: When we were kids, our mom who was Diné, would take us to Navajo land in Sawmill and Ft. Defiance. One evening (I was about 7 years old), my uncle Lafe Damon took me on a run down to this sheep corral and back. I think it was more of a dare to see if I could finish. It was not more than ½ mile away; however, it seemed so far away. I experienced cross country pain for the very first time and remember trying to finish by the setting sun. Family stories included my late uncles Gilbert and Tom Damon (Albuquerque Indian School graduates and Korean War veterans) who were apparently quite athletic. My mom used to say that I took after them.

My greatest influence and support were my parents Tom and Doris Gomez. They were always so supportive and constantly praying for us when we were growing up. They all wove a web of thankful influence on me.

Mike: I do not think my parents ever encouraged or discouraged me to participate in extracurricular activities. Actually, it was rather difficult, as my Dad was a seasonal farm laborer, a vegetable field share cropper, and a citrus grove care taker. We picked grapes, plumbs, apricots, pears, peaches, and strawberries from Glendale, Arizona all the way up to Fairfield and Yuba City - Marysville, California. I think Coach Toya in Yuma, Arizona spoke on my behalf to find time to participate. Then, St. Catherines in Santa Fe, New Mexico where athletic involvement was simple because of boarding situation. We found some time, but the working sunup to sundown mentality from my mother and father contributed to my work ethic.

Doc: Did you ever face any obstacles due to your Native American Heritage?

Daniel: As a Native American, there are always lots of obstacles you face every day, could be a little misunderstanding to a complaint.

Bruce: The obstacles I faced were to me more challenges. However, coming from a small town and going to a school like Colorado University was a big adjustment. Making those small steps and passing classes in a sea of high academic achievers was hard, yet so fascinating.

Mike: No obstacles from the cultural or Native heritage aspects, but that part of my growing up lagged somewhat. When I came back to high school and college, I stayed with relatives in Laguna Pueblo; and so I was exposed to and participated in some of Laguna’s Native cultural and traditional activities.

Doc: Did you ever face prejudices or bias as an athlete or coach being Native American?

Daniel: Once we were faced with prejudice in Indiana in the 70’s when the white runners asked us where we found our uniforms and if we had stolen them from other white runners? We all just chuckled.

Bruce: As far as prejudices and bias, I was accepted into the running community more than anything, so this was not an issue. I arrived at Colorado University on a bus (my late parents took a collection and saved up to get me a bus ticket and to have cash to get to school), carrying a small suitcase with 2 pairs of pants and shirts with my old training shoes. I attended CU/Boulder on an AIPC (All Indian Pueblo Council) academic scholarship. It was not an athletic scholarship. While at Colorado University in the 70’s, I was fortunate to train with some of the nation’s finest runners including Olympic Marathon Champion Frank Shorter and members of the Colorado Track Club (Pablo Vigil, Ric Rojas, Ted Castaneda, Steve Flanagan to name some). During my freshman year, I came under the tutelage of coaches Ken Swenson, who was the American record holder at 800 meters at the time, and Don Myers, who was one of the top Colorado University track athletes in the 60’s. I was certainly not a star when I arrived at Colorado University (4:44 mile and 10:20 for 2 miles) compared to those with 4:08-4:16 and 8:57-9:20 credentials on the team. However, I found a foothold, a means of staying in school, and in attaining a college degree in a very welcoming environment. The running community was so good to me. It was because of running that I was able to graduate, and I am forever grateful to the sport and to all whose paths I’ve crossed and have helped me on the way. This journey continues on through my coaching and in organizing running events. I continue to meet interesting and wonderful people through running. Last fall, September 2016, there was a cross country runners of 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s reunion at CU/Boulder, and I always wanted to thank the guys on that team in 1974 for their impact they made on me that fall. It was a moving personal moment when I was able to do that at the reunion.

Mike: I do not think I ever experienced any negativity because of my Native heritage; I may have imagined it somewhat while in US Naval Reserves. My CO did not approve of my Sunday drilling time because of my coaching on Saturdays. I received unsatisfactory ratings on my evals.

Doc: What are the “positives” in our sports today for our Native American athletes and coaches?

Daniel: The positives for the future are that Natives have always been strong runners and emerge at a young age to adulthood. Athletes run for their wellness, to represent their school, community, family name, and keep the tradition alive.

Bruce: The positives are that there are more opportunities for young people. The reservoir of knowledge and culture is there and will continue to contribute to the sport. There is certainly a lot of room for more coaches and my hope is that more young people will consider coaching/teaching as a career track. It’s a good one and there is so much more that can be done.

Mike: The participation and career opportunities are unlimited – a most rewarding experience for all athletes in all sports as well as coaches – the realm of running, however, is special because by its very nature running requires a high degree of self-motivation and discipline which ingrains into the runner a self-starter mentality, and I think running in its pure sense parallels the type of individual a person is – self-starter, genuine self–motivation, discipline, strong sense of character, and a high degree of self-worth and confidence. With their running accomplishments, these people are a positive force in our society – hopefully, good citizens and good careers.

Doc: What do you predict for the future of cross country and track and field for the Native American athletes and coaches in “The Land of Enchantment”?

Daniel: Coaches have strong faith in running and traditions. It comes from the heart within yourself. You can strive for a college scholarship in running and achieve your goals while you get your education and keep your tradition alive making for a bright future for Native American athletes and coaches of cross country and track and field in the “Land of Encantment.”

Bruce: The future is more a matter of a continuum – of keeping this tradition going. There certainly is more that can be achieved. The history of New Mexico running is steeped with names that I remember as a kid when my interest in the sport began. Those names like Sando, Magdalena, Waquie, Armijo, and Neha, (to name a few), evoked a sense of awe in me and still continues to do so to this day. Then there are those whose names we do not know. Those who sacrificed and helped in times of need and periods like the Pueblo Revolt who were no doubt brave, quiet, and strong. This will all continue.

Mike: If you think about it, in the late 70’s, we were throwing a softball for the girls as a field event; now, we have them throwing the javelin. Mid 90’s, we introduced the triple jump, and then came the pole vault for the girls. There will be changes; what, I don’t know, maybe, replace the 800M relay with distance relay like 4X800M or a 4X1600. Eventually, we’ll have a version of 400M hurdles for boys and girls. In cross country, we may lengthen the distances of the boys and girls courses – 6k for the girls and an 8K for the boys (something similar to the college ranks). We may see more dual meets, rather than large invitational. How about pre-state qualifying sectionals or regional cross country races?

Doc: What is your secret to “success” as a coach?

Daniel: Secret success as a coach? “You have to love to run.” Discipline.

Bruce: I feel that I do not have any secrets to success. For one, success can have many meanings. If anything, the least we can do, however, (without sounding too cliché), is always “doing from the heart,” to always be kind, and to love these young people for who they are. It is also important to stay humble when you win, and to still be gracious when expectations come up short. There are lessons in winning and in losing. That is the mark of a true champion.

Mike: Coach, you and I know there are no secrets – no short cuts in this profession – like the comments in question No. 7, hard work, dedication, motivation, discipline, passion and drive, is what we try to instill in each of our participants. I like to say we start from the ground up with an individual. Physically teach them the basics, warming up, stretching, start with small, slow intervals and gradually work up, increase the distance, increase the time, then, when they’re ready, start the speed work. Mentally, work on the individual’s approach to running, reinforce constantly the mind set with positive motivations, and praise. Build confidence. Know your participant’s strengths and weaknesses, then customize your approach. Out work your opponents, if that’s possible.

Doc: What do you want your legacy to be?

Daniel: My legacy? I have to laugh at this one. I said I could just hear my former athletes, who I coached at Jemez Valley High School, saying “Coach Chinana is mean, he’s always yelling at us, go faster, do it like this…” That is my legacy, with a chuckle. Or could it be that as a coach, I’ve been successful in bringing home five State Boys Championships, four State Girls Championships, 12 District Boys Championships, 16 District Girls Championships, nine Coaches of the Year Awards, last, but not least, 2016 NMHSCA Hall of Fame Award.

Bruce: I wish my legacy to be that I was kind.

Mike: Figuratively, I carried the flaming torch, the Pueblo Revolt’s Knotted Cord, the St. Catherines, the St. Josephs, Albuquerque/Santa Fe Indians School’s relay baton; let someone, Native or otherwise be the outgoing runner. I ran hard, I ran fast, I ran with a clear mind and a good heart, hopefully, imparting good will and peace toward everyone, especially my immediate and extended family. My running path has been made beautiful with the love shared with all my contacts; and as I approach the exchange zone, the out-going runner better be in acceleration zone.

We thank Daniel (Tobacco Mound), Bruce (Morning Walking), and Mike (Little Mountain) for their thoughts and service to the sports of Cross Country and Track and Field in “The Land of Enchantment” and to all Native American coaches, athletes, and families who helped us all get to where we are today.

Dr. David “Doc” Helm

President-emeritus NMTCCCA



Hall of Famer

Last Updated ( Sunday, 29 October 2017 15:58 )
Reflections on the History of and Coaching Women's Track
Saturday, 04 March 2017 10:26    | Written by Administrator    PDF Print E-mail

Join Doc helm in a conversation with Kathy Brion of Eldorado and Lacy Lockwood of East Mountain as they share their personal thoughts on the history of coaching women's track in New Mexico.


Read more... Last Updated ( Sunday, 29 October 2017 15:59 )
2015 NMTCCCCA 27th Annual Coaches Clinic
Sunday, 11 January 2015 00:00    | Written by Administrator    PDF Print E-mail

27th Annual NMTCCCA Coaches Clinic

 Dates:     Friday & Saturday, January 23rd & 24th, 2015

To Attend this event, you must be an member of the NMHSCA, the NMTCCCA, and pay the clinic Registration Fee.  

You will be asked and/or charged at the event if you register for 1 or 2 of the 3 and not all three.

To Register: Click Here

Cost of the Event

Clinic Registration is $95.00

NMHSCA Membership is $50.00

NMTCCCA Membership is $15.00

You must be a member of the NMHSCA and the NMTCCCA and register for the clinic.

2015 NMTCCCA Coaches Clinic Schedule

Speakers at this year's Clinic:

Chris Faust: Cherokee Trail High School, "Sprints"

Matt George: Cleveland High School, "Javelin"

Nick Garcia: Notre Dame High School "Bondarchuk Method of Shot Put & Discus"

Mike Cunningham: Gill Athletics, "400 Dash/300 Hurdles"  & "Long and Triple Jump"

Matt Hull: PVSCA

Greg Hull: Pole Vault Certfication

Sheldon Blockburger: Arizona, "High Jump"

Ken Reeves: Nordhoff High School, "Distances"

Joe Franklin, UNM

Vincent Serniak: Arapahoe High School, "Weights, Strength, and Conditioning"

Jim Ciccarello: La Cueva High School, "100/110 Hurdles"

Austin Brodst, UNM, "Spring Mechanics"


To Register: Click Here

Host Hotel:

Sheraton Uptown

2600 Louisana Blvd, Albuquerque, NM 87110    (505) 881-0000

Room Rate:  $82.00 (includes breakfast)

Click here to contact hotel.

$82.00 rate includes hot breakfast

Since 1987 our association has been the voice of coaches.  Once again we will have another outstanding educational clinic.  The fees for clinic and membership have not increased since 2004.

Coaches must be members of both associations by our bylaws; NMHSCA ($50) and NMTCCCA ($15).  The dues for both are $65.00.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 11 January 2015 13:14 )
A History - XC with Adam Kedge and Curtis Williams
Monday, 10 August 2015 21:24    | Written by Administrator    PDF Print E-mail

A History
Around the Course and Down the Track with "Doc"

A conversation with:
Adam Kedge - Albuquerque Academy - Hall of Famer
Curtis Williams - Gallup - Hall of Famer


CURTIS:  Preface:  While I volunteered to this per the request of David “Doc” Helm, I was very apprehensive.  I would like to apologize if I have omitted mentioning well-deserving athletes and coaches; or if I have included any erroneous information.  Not all of us will ever agree on what individuals were the best.  When answering the question about top runners and coaches, I did not prioritize or rank any particular order.
CURTIS:  Acknowledgement:  I will admit that I used the internet to do my research.  As we all know, some sites are not always accurate or up to date.  I would like to thank Doc for allowing me to relive the past.


ADAM:  All successful programs must start with some basic fundamentals, ours at Albuquerque Academy being:
•    Balance – the program must fit into a person’s life with a healthy balance between family, health, academics, and athletics – in that order.
•    Team First – placing team and teammates first never takes away from all that an individual can accomplish.
•    Hard Work – there is no substitute for daily effort that builds from day to day, season to season, into a successful career.
•    The Marriage of Success and Failure – running, with all of its beauty, is a cruel and revealing sport.  Everyone experiences failure and setback.  How one deals with those setbacks and how they persevere is at the root of the beauty of our sport.  It is okay to fail.
Much of my philosophy of cross country and coaching can be viewed in the below outline of “building a successful program” that I wrote a few years back for national coaching guru, Jay Johnson.  See link:

CURTIS:  The first thing I would do is provide a handbook with rules for eligibility, NMAA, school drug and alcohol policy, criminal offense, misdemeanors, injuries/illness’, practice, trips/meets, equipment, lettering, fundraising, etc.  All of these rules would have consequences even to the point of dismissal from the team.  Also, in the handbook, I would include the importance of scientific evidence of warm-ups, stretches, cool down, nutrition, treatment of injuries, proper shoes, lightning alerts, and precompetitive anxiety.  One section of the handbook would be devoted to race strategies.  Another section would be addressing parents and their role.  The final section would be motivation such as poems, stories, etc.  I would invite my coaches and athletes to contribute to this section.

Once you have your guidelines and rules in place, then everyone knows their role and expectations.  Finally – Recruit! Recruit! Recruit! anyone that looks like a runner.  Strength comes in numbers.

The following the Coaching Characteristics for Success I used with young people to make them great:
•    First is to care about all of your runners; not just the fastest superstar.
•    Show your enthusiasm every day.
•    Communicate goals and expectations weekly.
•    Chart all athletes’ practices and meet performances.
•    Reward and praise constantly.
•    Don’t be afraid to lower the hammer when necessary.
•    Allow interaction and athlete input in certain situations, i.e., team rules, favorite workouts, etc.
•    Make sure athletes have a readiness to compete at their level to be successful.
•    Design workouts that serve your objectives, but try to make them fun.
•    Adjust your workouts; follow the hard/easy principle and the progressive overload.
•    Group your athletes by talent, but still have expectations for all groups.
•    Be there for them!  Be more than just a coach!


ADAM:  Memories:  Although I started running at age 9 or 10 after being a cast away from other organized sports where I did not find success, my first real memories of high school cross country happened when I was a freshman in high school. 

In 1979 (I think the year is correct) my older brother and I went to view the NM State Cross Country Championships being held in Santa Fe.  It was during the era of the great Santa Fe High teams.  I remember Peter Graham (current SFHS coach) racing through the arroyos near Ft. Marcy Park, just burying the rest of the field.  I recall the intensity of Peter, the other competitors, but mostly the intensity of Pete’s coach, John Alerie, pushing Peter to his limit despite a huge lead.

My next fond and defining memory was one that took place the following summer.  In the summer of 1980 my older brother left for two months to live with relatives in California.  Prior to that, we were training partners and fairly even ability.  I remember, like yesterday, my brother slugging me (hard) on the arm and telling me, “you better run.”  For two months, I ran, our normal trail, 5 ½ miles from our house to the windmill and back through the hills outside of Espanola.  I ran in New Mexico, he ran in California, and when we got back together two months later things changed.  We were still brothers, runners, and training partners, but the old cow trails of northern New Mexico cannot be matched by any of the draws of California.

Mentors:  Cross Country in the state of New Mexico has been shaped profoundly by two men:  Curtis Williams and Matt Henry.

The first true innovator of cross country in our state was Curtis Williams of Gallup.  Curtis’ successful program was second to how he and staff ran their teams.  Many programs prior to the great Gallup programs lacked structure and organization.  From the outside, Curtis ran his teams like a general and his army, full of discipline, never giving in or surrendering.  The toughness of the whole team, from his #1 down to his last man, was a sight to see.  If eel Curtis changed cross country in New Mexico for what many considered a sport for football rejects or for pre-season basketball conditioning into a real sport.

The second man, and second set of secret ingredients to building a successful cross country program was on display for years by the adored, Matt Henry.  His formula of treating kids with kindness, building a family atmosphere, one where all are valued and respected can be seen today in every successful cross country program in the state.  Coach Henry’s old West Mesa teams were good; but when he took his formula to La Cueva High School, the landscape of New Mexico cross country changed forever.  A team, no matter how much talent and hard work, could not match the tidal wave of 100+ smiling, fun-loving runners, and their supportive family members.  Don’t be mistaken by Matt’s pleasant demeanor and the apparent joy exuded by his teams.  He was a hard-nosed competitor, both as a runner and as a coach, and the performances of his teams mirrored his quiet intensity.

Matt’s impact on my program can be seen in my opening remarks and my philosophy statement.  I see a touch of Coach Henry in every good New Mexico program.  As a matter of fact, I see the influence of Coach Curtis Williams and Coach Matt Henry in far more athletes and individuals than those that had a wonderful opportunity to run on their teams.

CURTIS:  It was the summer of 1972 when I was hired to coach junior high basketball and track at Tohatchi High School.  On my first day on the job, the principal called me into his office and informed that I would be the varsity cross country, basketball, and junior high track coach with a full teaching load.

I was excited and apprehensive at the same time.  I knew nothing about cross country and had very little experience with the other two sports.  I went looking for books on coaching distance runners; you guessed it, not much was being published.  So began my trial and error approach to cross country.  I have to share my first hosting of a meet.  Is set up a course around Chuska Lake.  The junior varsity went off without a hitch.  During the race, a rain cloud appeared over Chuska Mountain, yet no rain on the race.  We started the varsity race and still no rain.  A beautiful day, but wait, run off water started coming off the mountain.  The runners were on one side of the water and the finish line was on the other.  The first 10 or so runners splashed through the water, but it kept rising.  What to do?  I crossed the water which was now knee-deep to the other side.  Our football coach, yes, a football coach, was helping at the meet.  He went to the middle, and other volunteers and coaches formed a line; and we literally passed each runner across this wall of water that was now waist-high.  As the race neared the end, the water receded back to ankle-deep with the last few runners crossing like the first 10.  This was a very scary ordeal that I will never forget.  I could just see the headlines, “Athletes drown – Coach Fired.”

The coaching profession had not risen to the status of today.  Coaches were teachers first.  They knew little about their sports.  There was no coaching association or clinics to attend.  They did do one thing:  they allowed us to have fun.  They enjoyed the thrill of victory; and for losses, there was no dwelling on why they occurred.  They taught the fundamentals and expected us to perform them; but yet, be creative to the application of the fundamentals.  They had a no-nonsense approach.  They were firm, but fair to all.  I guess my coaches established my foundation in becoming a coach.

I had no real mentors while I was coaching – just coaches I admired and emulated.  Coaches tend to be closed-mouthed about what they are doing that brought about their success.  I did develop closeness with a legend in my early years.  His name was Adrian Gardner, a long time consistent winner at Laguna-Acoma and Belen.


ADAM:  Legacy is a daunting word.  My hopes and dreams are simple; that my wife, my daughter, and my two sons are proud of me and proud to be a Kedge.  Anything more than their blessings and love would be “small potatoes.”  I have no dreams of grandeur larger than that.

If I was to have a legacy relative to track and cross country, I would like to be remembered for being involved with our beloved sport for far too long.  One day soon I’m sure we’ll overhear, “Coach Kedge is still at it.  I can’t believe that he’s still out there.  The sport passed him by years ago.  I’m afraid he’s going to die out here one day.”

CURTIS:  I would hope that all my former athletes knew where I stood for discipline and fairness for all.  All runners were treated that same.  Rules of discipline were outlined in our handbook and everyone was expected to abide by them or suffer the consequences.

There were times that varsity runners were dismissed from the team.  Yet, these same runners would come back the next season and be strong team leaders.  At times, runners and their families would turn to me to help them with issues within their families.  They knew what I would be there for them.  I have attended their weddings, college graduations, and even funerals.


ADAM:  The two gentlemen I outlined above are certainly at the forefront of our sport.  No historical outline of our sport would be complete without the mention of the first New Mexico State Champion, and only five time winner, Gerry Garcia of El Rito High School as well as the first ever girls champion Sandy Beach (Warfield).

Rob and Kathy Hipwood of #1 – unquestionably, the best coaches in the state, right now, and for evermore.  Los Alamos is so very good, year-in and year-out, because of the guidance and leadership of Rob and Kathy.

I don’t feel like we’ve recognized Bob Jackson and his contributions enough.  Bob has been a longstanding successful coach at a number of different schools for years.

The third set of coaches I think I need to recognize are those from our great state that don’t have a long line of blue trophies, have not lead national caliber teams or runners to prominence, or that pop into our minds when we talk about the “Legends of the Fall.”  The coach that has dedicated one season, touched one heart, and worn a smile while doing it, is tops in some former athlete’s mind.  Winners are not just those 1st across the finish line or carrying the big blue trophy.  One that touched me was my Jr. High and 1st year high school coach, Del Valdez.  I’m sure that all of us that have ever been a part of this sport has a Coach Valdez.

CURTIS:  I know that answering this question is going to be difficult and will probably be met with disagreement.  Through the times, I have seen their reign of prestige change.  My first pick for godfather would have to be Adrian Gardner of Laguna-Acoma.  I referred to him earlier as a mentor.  His teams dominated all classes in the 1970’s.  He and his teams were always humble in their victories.  He always strived for perfection.  One time his team had won an invitational, but he was not satisfied with the efforts, so he had them run the course again during the awards ceremonial.  They ran it faster the second time!  Too bad that the Footlocker and Nike championships were not around during his reign. 

My other picks for godfather are Adam Kedge of Albuquerque Academy and Robbie Hipwood of Los Alamos.  Sorry Kathy, but you are the wrong gender for this title, but I will discuss you later.  I will never forget Adam’s triumph over my team at the Bernalillo meet in 1995.  I knew at the time he was the real deal.  It doesn’t seem possible that he has been coaching for 20+ years.  I still remember him running at Espanola Valley and he still looks so young.  As far as Robbie’s years of coaching, I don’t remember when there was a change in the NMAA classification and when he took the reins at Los Alamos.  I believe it to be around 2000.  Los Alamos had always been AAAA.  They had to compete against the likes of Santa Fe, Grants, and Gallup as strong contenders and just never got the breaks to win a state championship.  Now they have to compete against Albuquerque Academy: what a heart breaker.  This doesn’t bother the Hipwoods.  Since 2000, it has been a battle between those two teams.  Both coaches are very humble and very professional.

Now for the godmother of cross country.  While there has not been many women coaches, I will mention the well-deserved ladies, not just because they are women, but because they have earned it.  The first lady has to be Marilyn Sepulveda of Alamogordo.  She coached both boys and girls.  Her teams were always competitive.  They usually were the top teams to come out of the south.  She was not afraid of competing against the northern teams.  They would travel several times to the north to compete.  She is best remembered for her leadership in developing our NMTCCCA.  She was our first president that led us into the great organization that we have today.

The next lady is Kathy Hipwood of Los Alamos.  Even though she shares her accomplishments with her husband Robbie, we know that it takes a woman’s touch.  Behind every successful man is successful woman.  Her teams have dominated for 15 years – I believe with 12 state championships, the most of any school.  She and Robbie have been very active in our organization.

While I answered this question, many great coaches have come to mind that should be mentioned as the godfather/godmother.  They are Alan Lockridge of Pojoaque; John Alier or Santa Fe; Steve Gachupin and Daniel Chinara of Jemez Valley; Dan Otero of Laguna-Acoma; and Alice Kinlichee of Shiprock.


ADAM:  I’m not a big proponent of the “kids aren’t what they used to be” saying.  Cross country kids of today are not much different from those of old. A good cross country runner is:
•    Hard Working
•    Sportsmanlike
•    a Loyal Friend
•    Kind Hearted
•    a Good Student
•    and a Planner & Dreamer

CURTIS:  I would describe them as mentally & physically tough with a strong sense of team cohesiveness.  These athletes were in the times when there were no athletic trainers to treat their blisters, shin splints, etc.  Training and racing shoes were basically non-existent.  I remember athletes that wore shoes that were ill-fitted, with no arch support, etc.  Their feet sometimes looked like raw hamburger.  Yet, these athletes would continue to train and race.

I had athletes that would ride a bicycle, hitch hike, or even run just to get to practice.  They rarely missed a practice. No excuses, just results.  These athletes lavished the idea of running the most grueling courses of practices.  They hated golf courses! 

They accepted their roles within the team.  There was no complaining about which team (varsity, junior varsity, or C-team) they would be racing at a particular meet.  There was no pecking order within the teams.  An example would be if my number three runner beat the number one or two; there were no
jealous moments.  It meant that the two beaten runners didn’t have a good race; and the next week, they would work harder to get their positions back.  They knew that the week’s preparation would be much harder than any race; and their competition among their teammates, just to make the travel squad, would be even harder than the upcoming meet.

My biggest recruitment came from the team members.  They would ask their classmates, friends, and relatives to join.  They did not care that any of these potential recruits might displace them.  They knew that strength came in numbers.


ADAM:  I’m not sure if the below mentioned names are the top-five or the five fastest, but I certainly feel like there are a number of great runners that have had a major influence on our sports of cross country and distance running.

•    Gerry Garcia of El Rito High School for his long standing dominance in the 1960’s.

•    There are three men that need to be recognized for their contributions as high school runners, college runners, all the way into their professional careers:  Dr. Chuck Aragon of Los Lunas High School, Dr. Tony Sandoval and Ric Rojas, both of Los Alamos High School.

•    Brandon Leslie, of Gallup, for his outstanding high school performances and his efforts in college and as a pro.  Brandon was incredible and took part of one of the most amazing duals I’ve ever seen in New Mexico cross country history.  The race was, Brandon Leslie vs. David Krumanacker at the state meet, through the hills and park around Milne Stadium in the early 1990’s.

•    Shardack Kiptoo, of La Cueva, despite being placed in the center of a lot of controversy, always acted mature, humble, and with a warm heart.  He was thrust into the national cross country scene for controversial reasons; and while all adults around him had opinions of his part in our sport, he always represented his school and state with dignity.

•    The extended Martinez family of Grants; Andy, Galen, Franklin and others of the family were part of outstanding dominate teams for years.

•    Sandy Beach, New Mexico’s first ever state cross country champ.

•    Felicia Guliford of Gallup, dominated beyond what all could imagine.  She dominated in the state in both track and cross country and consistently great at the national level.

•    The Top-5 varsity girls that made up the United States #1 ranked cross country team from Los Alamos were amazingly dominant.  Four of their names stick in my head right now, so I won’t mention them by name knowing that I’d have to look up the only one I am forgetting.

CURTIS:  There is no way that I could limit my answer to just five top runners.  I chose the following runners for their consistent accomplishments in high school, college, and the U.S.:

•    Gerry Garcia won five individual cross country titles from 1961-1965.  He ran for El Rito.  He also ran for Eastern University in Portales earning NAIA All-American honors during his two years.

•    Al Waque won only one high school cross country state championship from Jemez Valley in 1968.  He made his mark by winning eight straight victories on the La Luz (1977-1985).  He won the Pikes Peak Marathon in 1981 and 1982.  He also won six straight titles in the Empire State Stair Climb in the 1980’s.

•    Ric Rojas of Los Alamos won four state titles in cross country and track in 1968-1969.  He was ranked in the top ten United States High School milers.  He still holds the New Mexico mile record of 4:12.6.  He graduated from Harvard in 1974 with a BA and in 1983 received his MBA from the University of Denver.  He was ranked in the Top 10 of US Road Racers from 1977-1981.  In 1976, he won the USATF National Cross Country Championship.  He presently has his own business; Ric Rojas Running in Broomfield, CO.

•    Dr. Tony Sandoval won two cross country titles in 1970 and 1971.  He earned a scholarship to Stanford.  In 1976, he won the PAC * Conference title in the 10,000 meters over three Kenyans from Washington State.  One of the Kenyans was Samson Kimobwa, who set the world record in the 10,000 the following year.  1980 was met with both excitement and disappointment.  He won the US Olympic Trials with a 2:10.19 for the marathon, but the 1980 Moscow Olympics was boycotted by the U.S.

•    Chuck Aragon won track and cross country titles in 1975 and 1976 while at Los Lunas High School.  While running at Notre Dame, he was the first runner in school history to break a 4-minute mile with a 3:59.92.  He still holds Notre Dame’s 1500 meter record of 3:38.40.  He made the 1984 Olympic team in the 1500 meter as an alternate.  He was beaten by Sydnee Maree at the trials for the 3rd position.  Maree pulled out of the 1500 a week before the games due to injury.  It was too late for Chuck to train and compete.  Chuck is presently in Billings, MT at St. Vincent Healthcare working as an anesthesiologist.

•    George Young was probably the best runner of all New Mexico.  He ran track and cross country for Western High School in Silver City back in the 1950’s when there was no NMAA Championships.  He attended the University of Arizona and lettered in both sports.  He was the first American to run in four Olympiads – 1960, 1964, 1968, and 1972.  He set national records twice in the Steeplechase 8:31 in 1961 and 8:30 in 1968.  He also set a national record in the 2 mile 8:22 and 5000 meters 13:32.  George set indoor world records in the 2 and 3 mile.  He raced against the likes of Ryun, Mills, Schul, and Prefontaine.  His best finish was in the 1968 Mexico Games winning the Bronze Medal.

•    Luis Martinez was from Cleveland High School and an 8-time state champion:  three in cross country, three in the 3200 meter, and two in the 1600 meter.  He set the state 5A 1600 meter at 4:11.56.  Presently, he runs for Oklahoma State University.

•    Shane Garcia was a 3-time cross country champion from Laguna-Acoma in 1988, 1989, and 1990.  He ran for North Carolina State University.

•    Phillip Castillo, of Grants, was a 2-time champion in cross country in 1988 and 1989.  He placed 8th at the Kinney cross country championship.  He ran for Adams State College in Alamosa, CO where he was and NCAA DII All-American in 1991, 1992, and 1993.  He was the first Native American to win an NCAA cross country championship on a team with a perfect score.  He graduated with a Master of Science.  He joined the Army and competed on the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program.  He ran in the 2000 Olympic trials for the marathon.

•    Brandon Leslie of Gallup was a 2-time cross country and track champion in 1993 and 1994 and finished 3rd in the Footlocker National Cross Country Championship.  Highly recruited, he chose Northern Arizona University but had personal issues and dropped out.  In 1997, he won the National Junior College Championship.  In 1999, he accepted scholarship at Adams State.  Spring of 2000, he won the Division II NCAA 10,000 meter at Mt. Sac earing him Olympic Trials B standard.  He had a disappointing performance at the Olympic trials in Sacramento.  Later that summer, he qualified again in Chicago and ran the U.S. trials in New York in November.  He is presently the head cross country & track coach at Navajo Pine High School.  At a first year head coach, he won a cross country state championship in 2014.

•    Ben Ortega of Taos High School was a 2-time cross country and track champion in 1998 and 1999.  He chose UNM where he won Mountain West Conference Championships in the 5000 and 10,000 meters.  He has a private law practice with offices in Albuquerque and Taos, N.M.

•    Matt Tebo of El Dorado High School was a 2-time cross country and 3-time track champion in 2004 and 2005.  In 2007, he ran in the World Cross Country Championship in Kenya; he earned this trip by finishing 3rd at the U.S. Championship.  He won the 2006 Footlocker West Regional and placed 5th at the National meet.  As a junior in high school, he ran the 3200 meters at the Nike Outdoor Nationals with an 8:47, placing 2nd.  He holds the N.M. high school record in 3200 meters with a 9:07.  He ran for Colorado University and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Studio Art in 2011.

•    Ben Johnson of Albuquerque Academy was a 2-time cross country champion is 2006 and 2007.  He ran for Stanford- a 2-time All-American in the 3000 meter Steeplechase.  His senior year at Stanford, he was the number one for the team in both cross country and track.  In 2006, he was the top junior in the Footlocker National Cross Country Championship with a 6th place finish and ran 3rd in the Nike Team Nationals.

•    Kyle Pittman of Los Alamos was a 2-time cross country champion in 2008 and 2009.  He finished 4th individually at the Nike Southwest Regionals.  He led his team to a 1st place tie and a 2nd place finish at the Nike Nationals.  He ran for UNM and still had the fastest time on the Rio Rancho Course with a 14:59.

•    Simon Gutierrez of Del Norte was a state cross country champion in 1983.  Even though he won only one state title, he has accomplished himself as a mountain runner. He has won three Pikes Peak Ascents, 4-time winner of La Luz, was top U.S. finisher at the World Mountain Championship Italy in 2004, and member of the Teva U.S. Mountain running team.  He was an Olympic trials qualifier in the marathon.  He was on the U.S. National Cross Country team 3 times in 1984 and 1985 junior division, and 1987 senior division.  He finished 3rd at the Kinney Cross Country Nationals.  His inspiration is to become a private coach or to coach NCAA Athletes.

•    Felicia Guliford of Gallup High school ran cross country for five years.  As an 8th grader, she finished 2nd in the state championships; but went on the win four straight cross country titles in 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001.  During her four years, she racked up 18 titles in cross country and track.  She was a four time Gatorade New Mexico Track & Cross Country Athlete of the Year and was undefeated in all three distance races for four years at the Great Southwest.  She ran three cross country races in the Footlocker Nationals.  Her worst finish was 6th place.  She still holds 6A state records in the 1600 and 3200.  Felicia ran four years for the University of Tennessee.  Her senior year in 2007, she was named to the SEC Track and Field Community Service Team for volunteering work and charities in the Knoxville area and even in the country of Chile.  She spent some time teaching and coaching cross country and track at Miyamura High School in Gallup.  She graduated from the University of New Mexico - School of Medicine with a Doctor’s degree in 2015.

•    Jacquelyne Gallegos of Pojoaque High School was a 3 time cross country state champion in 1997, 1999, and 2000.  She ran for UNM for 5 years (she was granted 5 years of eligibility due to a car accident her sophomore year).  She was a 3 time Mountain West Conference All Conference runner.  She hold the UNM indoor 300 meter record and held the Academic All Mountain West Conference honors each season of cross country and track.  Presently, she is married to Nick Martinez, head cross country coach at La Cueva; and she is employed with the NMAA.

•    Amy Swier of Aztec High School was a 4 time cross country state champion in 1993, 1994, 1995, and 1996.  She hold the New Mexico 1600 meter record for 4:51.68 and the 3200 meter record of 10:32.79.  Amy ran for Northern Arizona University.  Her junior year at NAU, she ran in the NCAA-D1 Cross Country Championship and finished 47th.  In 1999, she set a Northridge Track and Field Complex record in the 10,000 meters of 35:19.9.  Her personal best was 34:17.9.  She was plagued with injuries her senior year.

•    Julia Foster of Albuquerque Academy was a cross country champion is 2006, 2009, and 2010.  She won seven titles in track and holds the 5A state records in 1600 and 3200.  In 2011, she competed for Team USA at the North American, Central American, and Caribbean Championships.  In 2012, she was the number 6 runner for the Stanford Cardinals cross country team that finished 3rd at the NCAA D1 National Championship.  She still has the fastest cross country time at the Rio Rancho – NMAA Championship with 18:35.8.

•    Kate Norskog was St. Michael’s in Santa Fe was a 4 time cross country champion is 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2010.  She was also a 5 time track state champion in the 1600 and 3200 meters.  She ran for Syracuse in 2011.  I don’t know what happened to her after 2011; even though she ran class AAA, she still has one the top 3 times on the tough Rio Rancho NMAA Championship course.

•    Kristen Hemphill of Los Alamos was a 3 times cross country champion in 2002, 2003, and 2004.  She ran for 3 years at Colorado State University.  In 2008, she did not compete due to a medical hardship waiver.  She set the CSU 3000 Steeplechase record of 10:08 and earned All-Mountain West Conference honors all 3 years – both athletic and academic.

•    Verna Woody (Montjoy) of Gallup was a 2 time cross country state champion in 1982 and 1984.  She was the first of many Gallup individuals who were state cross country champions.  She was the first girl to run under 18:00 for the NMAA State Championship held at Milne Stadium.  Also, the first girl to qualify out of the Kinney/Footlocker Western Regionals by placing 4th with a time well under 18:00.  At nationals, she was number 5 on the west team with a 20th place and a time of 18:07.  She won the 3000 meters three times setting a New Mexico state record of 10:13.2.  She ran for Phoenix Community College.  In her first year, she claimed a runner-up position at the National Junior College Athletic Association, leading her team to the National Championship.  She still runs 10k’s, ½ and full marathons and is employed as a dental hygienist.

These ladies should also be included:
•    Stephanie Milan of Bloomfield High School (1990, 1991, & 1992)
•    Michelle Montoya of Tucumcari High School (1982, 1983, & 1984)
•    Rachel Fledderman of Sandia Prep High School (2011, 2012, & 2013)
•    Caroline Kaufman of East Mountain High School (2008, 2009, 2010, & 2011)
•    Melissa Lucero of Laguna-Acoma High School (1988, 1990, & 1991)


ADAM:  I recall the 1st one I ran in 1981 at Milne Stadium.  It did not turn out well for me.  The “run from the front” racing style only works if you are far better than everyone else – I was not.  Even though I finished 19th and implemented a poor race plan, I look back on that day with fondness.  There is nothing like being a part of high school sports; I remember dreaming that one day I was going to run in the Olympics.
Side note on my 1st state cross country experience – I have plenty of stories of the coaching staff that somehow grew from two coaches at Espanola Valley to five or six when it was time to go to the big city of Albuquerque; and they had the opportunity to enjoy a weekend on the district’s checkbook.  Needless to say, their focus the evening before the race was not on high school cross country.

The 2nd fond memory I have is of guiding a group of seven boys from Albuquerque Academy to a state title in 1998, my 1st as a head coach.  We had a strong team, but were unknowns to the scene and clear underdogs.  To win a title at Red Rock State Park, a wonderful venue, with nobody finishing in the top ten, was a special moment.  I remember thinking, “I just want to prove to everyone we could do it!” and then waking up the next Sunday morning thinking, “Oh my, now we have to prove it next year that it was no fluke!”

CURTIS:  I have two meets that truly stand out.  The first was in 1983, Gallup’s first state title.  At the district meet hosted by Los Alamos, we were favored over Del Norte, the defending state champions.  We had to travel from Gallup to Los Alamos.  The bus left at 4:00 a.m.  One of our consistent scorers missed the bus.  We came in 2nd to Del Norte.  Del Norte was let by Simon Gutierrez and Glenn Morgan, both of which would go on to winning individual titles.  We only beat Los Alamos by one point.  At the time, only the top 2 teams qualified for state.  We were able to stay positive, regroup, and go on to win the title by beating Del Norte 52-70.  By the way, the runner that missed the bus was dismissed due to the team rules being violated twice.

The other meet that stand out in my mind was the last year I coached at Gallup.  The year was 2002.  We were not blessed with stellar front runners, but we had runners that understood the importance of pack running.  We had no runners in the top 10, but we managed to have 7 runners in the next 10; just proving that cross country is a great team sport. 

The first cross country meet and the first state cross country championship:
First of all, I am not that old since that first state meet for boys was in 1960; and even if I were, I probably would have forgotten.  I do know that for 10 years (1960-1970) runners only ran 2 miles and started with only 2 classes – large and small schools (A & B).  There was no qualifying to state.  I believe after the first two years that changed.

I know that Roswell hosted several of the state championships; and then, Santa Fe took their turn.  APS followed until 1993 when Gallup took the reins and finally Rio Rancho from 2006 to the present.

Now for the girls, their first official state championship was in 1979.  Girls had been running competitively for years in invitational meets.  Thanks the Title IX, they finally got their shot.

Something to think about:
For several years when Gallup hosted the state championships at Red Rock State Park, there was a person that elevated cross country to a new level by means of the radio.  His name was Sammy Chioda, simply known as Sammy C.  He and his staff did pre-race interviews with coaches, covered all live races, and did post-race interviews. I would love to see NMAA take the state championship one step higher:  Live TV coverage just like other N.M. state championships!  If Kinney, Footlocker, and Nike can do it, why not New Mexico?


Dr. David “Doc” Helm
Hall of Famer

Doc talks with two founding members
Monday, 08 December 2014 07:45    | Written by Administrator    PDF Print E-mail

A History

Around the Course and Down the Track with “Doc”

A Conversation with

Bob Sepulveda – Alamogordo – Hall of Famer


Ron Singleton – Carlsbad – Hall of Famer

“The Birth and Conception of the NMTCCCA”

Insights of the Beginning from Ron

Doc: Who had the idea first about creation of an association for track and cross country coaches?

Ron: I would have to give credit to Marilyn and Bob Sepulveda, especially Marilyn.

Doc: What were the dreams of the founders for the future of the NMTCCCA?

Ron: We all wanted to see a strong association of the track and cross country coaches to be able to work with the NMAA to strengthen our sport. We wanted to put in motion the recognition of our athletes by running an all-star track and field meet. We were not getting anywhere with NMAA!

Doc: When and where did the first meeting take place to discuss the formation of the association and who was present?

Ron: I think several of us met in 1987 before the NMAA Coaches Association meeting in July, probably in June. I remember going to Del Norte High School to sit down and work out the details. Those present were Bob and Marilyn Sepulveda, Curtis Williams, Joanne Romero, Gary Sanchez, Blaine Clark, Jim Edwards, Gary Ray, Matt Henry, and Dan MacEachen; not sure, Phil Satenga may have been there.

Doc: How was the word put out that a possible association for track and cross country coaches was being considered?

Ron: Marilyn sent out information for the 1987 Coaches Association meeting that we would be forming the NMTCCCA at the yearly coaches’ meeting, and that was the birth of the NMTCCCA on July 31, 1987.

Doc: In those early meetings, what obstacles were in the way; and how many meetings were held before the July 31, 1987, meeting in Albuquerque?

Ron: Seems to me, we had opposition from NMAA at the start. I think they were afraid we would split with them and go our own way. Of course, they were of no help in creating the all-star meet; as you can tell, we still have to plan and carry it out with virtually no help from the NMAA. Distance was a major factor for us being able to meet to put things in motion. Lots of letters and phone calls took place during that time. Wish I had kept them.

Doc: Who were the major contributors to pushing the creation of the association through?

Ron: Marilyn Sepulveda was the major player in getting the association started. The group I mentioned earlier was very active, but this was Marilyn’s dream and it is a fitting legacy that we honor her with the name of our all-star meet. Wonderful lady! Left us way too early. I think she would be proud of what has transpired since her passing.

Doc: What was the atmosphere like in the early meetings?

Ron: We all got along well because we all believed in what we were trying to get accomplished. We wanted our voice to be heard by the NMAA, and we wanted an all-star meet for our athletes.

Doc: It appears that everyone who came to the July 31st meeting walked away with a responsibility for the future of the NMTCCCA. What was the process used to distribute said responsibilities?

Ron: We elected Marilyn the first president of NMTCCCA; Curtis was elected; and Joanne agreed to be the secretary, bless her heart; the representatives were selected by their regions. I think Marilyn asked them to serve. Gary Ray consented to do a newsletter with Ted Sisneros agreeing to help. Blaine Clark took charge of publicity, and I consented to research and to start putting together the Constitution with the help of Gary Ray, Dan MacEachen, Don Reese, Jim Edwards, Blaine Clark, Rusty Davidson, and Matt Henry. Dan MacEachen agreed to be our TAC representative. This represented the entire state very well.

Doc: What do you think the founders would think of the NMTCCCA as it has developed over the years? What would they be happiest about?

Ron: We would be proud of how the idea developed and matured since 1987. The all-star meet would stand out as one of the proudest accomplishments! Relations with NMAA are better now than they were then. We are proud of those that have kept us at the forefront of making those decisions that affect our sports. Though we are only twenty-seven years old, we have made a difference for our kids. That is what it is all about!

Insights of the Beginning from Bob

Doc: Who had the idea first about creation of an association for track and cross country coaches?

Bob: For years, many coaches who attended the Arizona Track Coaches Clinic in January saw the need to form our own association and track clinic. Our summer clinic held in July never had many speakers on track and field and cross country. The clinic was mostly for football and basketball.

Doc: What were the dreams of the founders for the future of the NMTCCCA?

Bob: Our dreams was to have our own clinic in January before the start of our track and field season. Also, we wanted to form a track and field Meet of Champions. Football and basketball had their all-star games in the summer so we needed to honor our athletes with a Meet of Champions in the spring. Last, we wanted to promote our sport throughout the state and the southwest.

Doc: When and where did the first meeting take place to discuss the formation of the association and who was present?

Bob: I can’t remember the first meeting we had, but I think it was one time in the summer after one of the track and field sessions. We all stayed and discussed the issue about forming our own association. It had to be in the summer of 1985 or 1986. The coaches present as well as I can remember: Marilyn Sepulveda, Bob Sepelveda, Tim Flores, Dan MacEachan, Bill Marley, Matt Henry, Philip Satenga, Ted Sisneros, Joanne Romero, Curtis Williams, Gary Sanchez, Jim Edwards, Ron Maskew, Blaine Clark, and Ron Singleton.

Doc: How was the word put out that a possible association for track and cross country coaches was being considered?

Bob: Word of mouth and a newsletter was sent to all the track and field and cross country coaches who had joined the NM Coaches Association.

Doc: In these early meetings, what obstacles were in the way; and how many meetings were held before the July 31, 1987, meeting in Albuquerque?

Bob: The New Mexico Coaches Association Director Bobby Gibbs was not in favor of forming a track coaches’ association. He thought that it would hurt the membership of the association. We proposed that all coaches joining the New Mexico Track Coaches Association had to join the New Mexico Coaches Association. The football and basketball coaches were not backing us forming our own association.

Doc: Who were the major contributors to pushing the creation of the association through?

Bob: At that time, I think all the track and cross country coaches contributed. Some were more vocal than others: such as, Marilyn Sepulveda, Joanne Romero, Curtis Williams, Blaine Clark, Gary Sanchez, Matt Henry, Jim Edwards, Ron Singleton, Phillip Satenga, and Pam Allen. There were others, but I can’t remember all their names.

Doc: What was the atmosphere like in the early meetings?

Bob: Very busy! We were trying to draw up the constitution; as well as, how were we going to present it to Bobby Gibbs and the board of directors of the New Mexico Coaches Association, and get all the athletic directors in the state to back us while trying to get all assistant coaches to join.

Doc: It appears that everyone who came to the July 31st meeting walked away with a responsibility for the future of the NMTCCCA. What was the process used to distribute said responsibilities?

Bob: It was a giant meeting!! It was after a track session, and everyone stayed for the meeting. I think there were about 75 coaches. We elected officers. Marilyn Sepulveda was elected president then, she chaired the meeting. Many coaches volunteered for the positions as representatives in each class. The meeting lasted about 2 hours.

Doc: What do you think the founders would think of the NMTCCCA as it has developed over the years? What would they be happiest about?

Bob: The founders would be proud the way the association has grown and stayed together with good leadership. It has been a model for many of the track coaches’ associations in the country. Many states looked to our program and started their own programs. We also promoted track and cross country in our state and brought it to another level. The Marilyn Sepulveda Meet of Champions has kept on growing, and it gives the track athletes from all classes a chance to compete against one another.

We thank Bob and Ron for their insights.

Dr. David “Doc” Helm




Hall of Famer

Last Updated ( Sunday, 29 October 2017 15:25 )
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