Centennial girls, boys to contend for titles

Even years usually work out well for area cross country teams.

Local teams fare far better when the state meet is in Southern Nevada. And that could be good news for area runners, as the state meet returns to Veterans Memorial Park in Boulder City on Saturday.

The meet will feature all divisions, starting with the Division III boys race at 9 a.m.

Centennial’s boys won state titles in 2008 and 2010 at Veterans Memorial Park. Palo Verde’s girls won in 2010.

Northern teams swept last year in Reno.

The Centennial girls are clear favorites to win the Division I state title. Sydney Badger and Katie Gorczyca went one-two at the Sunset Region meet and turned in the day’s fastest times.

The Bulldogs easily prevailed, scoring 43 points to Arbor View’s 61 and Palo Verde’s 79. Coronado, winner of the Sunrise Region meet, looks to be in the hunt for a top-two finish.

“This is the week to just turn the girls loose and let them have some fun,” Centennial coach Roy Session said. “They have been running in big races all year, and they know how to compete. Let the chips fall where they fall.”

Also qualifying for state from the Sunrise were Foothill and Green Valley. McQueen led three qualifiers from the North.

“It appears the North (girls) lack depth,” Arbor View coach Tyrel Cooper said.

Centennial was among the favorites to win state last year but faltered in Reno’s thin air. This year, the Bulldogs added Gorczyca, a transfer from Palo Verde, who won state as an individual in 2010.

Looking to challenge Badger and Gorczyca for the individual title are Coronado’s Sara Dort, the Sunrise winner; Palo Verde’s Melissa Suan, third at state in 2011; Arbor View’s Zanae Jones; Galena’s Sara Hanneman, the North winner; and Basic’s Jessica Raymond, the top individual qualifier from the South.

The Division I boys race is projected to be close between Sunset champion Centennial and Northern champ Galena.

Centennial is led by Jackson Carter, Dajour Braxton and George Espino, who placed first, second and fifth at the regional, with Carter and Braxton posting the day’s fastest times. Galena dominated the Northern Regional, placing four runners in the top eight and all seven in the top 20.

Also qualifying for state from the South were Sunrise winner Coronado, Green Valley, Foothill, Shadow Ridge and Palo Verde.

Along with the Centennial runners, others in the hunt for the individual title are Northern champion Jordan Cardenas of Reno; Nick Oberdin and David Peters of Shadow Ridge, who were third and fourth behind the two Centennial runners; and Eddie Esquivel of Eldorado, the Sunrise winner and leader among 10 Southern individual qualifiers.

In Division I-A, the top qualifiers from the South are Tech’s boys and Faith Lutheran’s girls. Clark’s Mucuranyana Amon and Faith Lutheran’s Hannah Pavlov were individual winners in the I-A Southern Region meet.

In the Division III girls race, The Meadows leads local qualifiers. Jeneke Heerema of The Meadows, winner of the Southern Region meet, looks to have the best chance for an individual title.