Green Valley senior Milton Amezcua has big things planned for his final season running cross country for the Gators.
On Saturday, he had the biggest moment of his high school career, winning the junior-senior boys race at the Labor Day Classic at Palo Verde with a time of 16 minutes, 40 seconds for 3.1 miles. He had a 29-second improvement over his time at the 2016 Labor Day Classic.
Amezcua, who ran a 17:09 last year, finished ahead of defending Class 3A state champion Bryce Odegard of Pahrump Valley, who finished in 16:56. Liam Jones of Clark was third in 17:09.
“This feels good after a tough week of training,” Amezcua said. “This course is a little hard — coming up the hill twice is what killed me. Everything else was fine. I just had to push through and run a fast first mile to get some separation from the other guys.”
Amezcua and Odegard essentially turned the event into a two-person race as both runners pulled ahead of the pack by the time they reached the 2-mile mark. Amezcua said pushing the pace after the second mile is what helped him pull ahead of Odegard.
“I was pushing through, and he started pushing up with me, so I pushed up even more just to see if he would try to go with me,” Amezcua said. “I was trying to tire him out. Coming into the downhill, I started creating separation and on the uphill he was two to three seconds behind me, and as we came up on the finish I just took off.”
Amezcua, who finished 14th at last season’s Class 4A state meet, spent the summer working to meet one of his biggest goals of the season – breaking 16 minutes for 3.1 miles. He changed his diet and focused more on hydration. He also put in more time in the gym doing core and strength work.
“This was huge for his confidence, and for Milton needs that confidence. It’s what drives him,” Green Valley head coach Bud Beam said. “He needs it and for him to be able to do it today was big for him.
“He is one of the more committed kids I’ve seen in a long time. He wants so desperately to do well. It’s just a matter of pulling in the reigns during practice and understanding when to go hard and when to go easy. … He is determined to go out and win as much as he can.”
Amezcua’s first-place finish helped his team place second in the team competition with 104 points, 11 points behind Palo Verde. Desert Oasis finished third with 138.
In the junior-senior girl’s race, Centennial senior Alexis Gourrier continued her dominance of the event, winning in 19:44. She won the junior-senior race last year.
Centennial’s McKenzie Morgan (20:57) and Delani Dietrich (21:13) placed second and third, respectively, to help the Bulldogs win the team event as well with 19 points.
Palo Verde finished second with 89, and Green Valley was third with 94.
In the freshman-sophomore girl’s race, Arbor View’s Elaine Bruestle finished first in 20:08. Coronado’s Claire Rawlins (21:09) and Ellen Wise (21:35) finished second and third, respectively.
Faith Lutheran won the team competition with 39 points. Coronado (52) finished second and Palo Verde (91) was third.
In the freshman-sophomore boy’s race, Coronado’s Tom Dougherty won in 17:33. Centennial’s Jalen Gourrier (17:44) was second, and Coronado’s Bryce Tondryk (17:49) was third.
Centennial won the team event with 41 points. Coronado finished second with 43, and Green Valley was third with 122.