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Panthers’ Landers comes back to win Las Vegas Invitational

Palo Verde junior Noah Landers and Centennial senior Dajour Braxton have a budding cross country rivalry.

A week after finishing second to Braxton in the Labor Day Classic, Landers got revenge Saturday.

Landers came from behind to win the large-school boys race of the Larry Burgess-Las Vegas Invitational at Sunset Park, capturing the 3.1-mile race in 16 minutes, 9.8 seconds. Braxton was second in 16:16.3.

“I got stuck behind a lot of people early on,” Landers said. “After the first lap, I started making up some ground and caught up to Dajour and stayed with him for a little bit. We were running together until the last 100 meters, and then I just started sprinting.”

Braxton appeared to be headed for another victory after pulling ahead of the pack halfway through the race. But Landers worked his way through the crowd, eventually catching up with Braxton as the race headed into the final mile.

Landers’ strong finish was enough to propel him to his first win in a race Braxton was also running.

“This was a good race for him,” Palo Verde head coach Nick Meis said of Landers. “He ran a very smart race in these conditions. We are not quite as used to running in these humid conditions. He kind of held back a little bit knowing it was humid. He didn’t want to risk the season with any heat illnesses.”

While happy with the win, Landers made it clear what his ultimate goal is for this season.

“I don’t really care about my time,” Landers said. “State is what matters the most. I’m working with coach, and everything we are doing is geared toward running well at state. This is just a stepping stone.”

The state meet will be held at Sunset Park on Nov. 8.

“This is a good chance to size up the course and see how everyone will fare on it,” Meis said. “We hope it will be cooler, but fall in Nevada, you never know; anything can happen.”

Green Valley’s Austin Rogers finished third in 16:38.1.

Pine View (Utah) won the team competition with 52 points. Centennial was second with 80, and Green Valley was third with 104.

Nephi Eschler led Hurricane (Utah) to the team title in the boys small-school race, winning in 16:44.5, just ahead of Tech’s Garrett Meyer (16:45.2).

Hurricane had a team score of 30. Clark, led by Yoseph Siferaw’s third-place finish in 18:21, was second with 63, followed by Tech with 95.

Centennial sophomore Kayla Roberts dominated the girls large-school race, finishing in 19:54.4. Roberts held a commanding lead throughout the race. Palo Verde’s Emma Wahlenmaier finished second in 20:13.6, and her teammate Tori Landers finished third in 20:26.3.

Palo Verde ran away with the team title, placing four runners in the top 10 and finishing with 31 points. Pine View was second with 59. Rancho Buena Vista (Calif.) took third with 71 points, three fewer than Centennial.

The Meadows had four of the top nine finishers in the girls small-school race to win the team title with 22 points. Boulder City was second with 77.

Hurricane’s Kamryn Watts won the race in 20:34.1. The Meadows’ Jeneke Heerema (21:25.6) and Bailey Gosse (21:48) took second and third, respectively.

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