Mora runner signs with HU

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By Dave Kavanaugh

“Hard work usually yields positive results,” wrote Mora High School cross country standout Henrique Chavez in the scholarship essay he recently authored.

Chavez’s own diligence has helped land him a scholarship on the New Mexico Highlands University men’s cross country team. The Mora senior recently signed his letter of intent to attend — and run for — NMHU.

Chavez in November finished fifth in the New Mexico Class 2A championship meet held in Rio Rancho. It was a gratifying moment and the latest milestone for a young runner who has pursued personal growth in the sport largely on his own.

Raw ability coupled with hard work translated into top six individual finishes in the district meet each of his four years in high school. He was third in each of his freshman and junior years.

At state in 2009, Chavez cracked the top 10, checking in at 10th. A year later, he moved up five spots to finish among the premier runners in Class 2A.

“As far as our team goes,” said Mora head coach Mark Cassidy, “Henrique has been a leader. He’s very dedicated. He has a big heart, and he wants to run at the next level.”

Mora’s cross country program is usually an underdog, competing in a district that is home to established powers Pecos and Peñasco. In his essay, Chavez noted that the team has not always benefitted from experienced, knowledgable coaching.

Cassidy, a longtime basketball coach at the school who twice led girls’ teams to the state championship, said he took over the cross country program to keep it going after the departure of former coach Manuel Romero.

While Cassidy is still relatively new to cross country coaching, he certainly knows athletes and has insight on what makes them tick.

“He’ll bring a great attitude and a willingness to work hard,” Cassidy said of Chavez. “He’s got goot character, and he’s a good student. These are teh types of kids you want in your program.”

Chavez looks to have ample opportunity to improve under veteran NMHU cross country mentor Bob DeVries, who has guided multiple athletes to regional and national competition and acclaim. And Chavez’s attending NMHU would continue a family tradition of sorts. His parents, Mora educators Danny and Bernadette Chavez, are both graduates of the university.

Chavez said he has learned a lot already — lessons about himself — from his chosen sport.

“Preparing for a distance run yields lessons for a lifetime,” he wrote. “First, we learn to set goals and work hard to achieve them. We learn determination and resolve. When it seems you cannot endure another hill or take another stride forward, we learn that we have a reservoir of hidden strength, a second wind. We know that if we stop, we end up in the middle of nowhere. To count, we have to finish the run. The never-give-up attitude we need as runners serves us well in all that we do.”