Running under cloudless skies on a calm, cool morning produced some eye-popping times at the Sunset League Championships on Saturday. The flat desert course just north of the Shadow Ridge campus seemed to suit everyone.
“It was really nice weather. It’s the first time it’s been like this. It was probably good for everyone,” said Centennial junior, Sydney Badger, who breezed to the best girls time of the day (15 minutes, 44.3 seconds) over the 2.8-mile course. “Today, I had to prepare myself mentally. I was kind of running against the clock. But it helped knowing that Katie (Gorczyca) and the rest of my team was close behind me.”
Badger and Gorczyca (16:06.7) went 1-2, followed by teammates Shelby Gibbons (17:35.1) and Arden Holden (17:43.6). The Bulldogs fifth runner, sophomore Gabby Altmansberger finished 12th, giving Centennial a winning team score of 22 points. Cimarron-Memorial, led by fifth-place finisher Julianna Brooks (17:47.1), was runner-up in the Southwest League team scoring with 59 points.
“We’re running well. They’re progressing,” Centennial coach Roy Session said. “They’re coming along. We’ve got some things to work on but we’re progressing well.”
Katie Gorczyca, who was the 2010 state individual champion running for Palo Verde, couldn’t be happier, even though she is seemingly running “under the radar” behind Badger.
“I really like running with Centennial,” Gorczyca said “I like coach Roy (Session). I like the whole team environment. (Badger) pushes me a lot. Running and training with Sydney has really helped me.”
Palo Verde’s Marissa Suan won the Northwest League girls race with a time of 16:50.6, fifteen seconds ahead of runner-up Zanae Jones (17:05.3) of Arbor View. However, the Aggies prevailed by placing three in the top five and all five of their scoring runners in the top nine for a total of 26 points. Palo Verde finished second in the team scoring with 41 points.
Arbor View’s Madison Fletcher (17:56.4) and Morgan Anderson (18:08.6), and Palo Verde’s Bailey Dunlop (18:09.5), rounded out the top-five.
“Marissa ran well today,” Palo Verde Coach Robert Davis said. “She works hard and is now close to 100 percent. We’re where we want to be as a team and I feel we’ll be ready in two weeks.”
Centennial’s boys matched their female counterparts by winning the Southwest championship in lopsided fashion. Jackson Carter (14:24.6) and Dajour Braxton (14:25.0) ran together the entire race and grabbed the top two spots by a wide margin over Cimarron’s Seth Wright (14:48.9).
Desert Oasis’ Frankie Martinez (14:54.4) was fourth, and Bonanza’s Robert Rudd (14:55.3) was fifth.
Centennial placed all five scoring runners in the top eight to finish with 24 points. Desert Oasis finished a distant second with 65.
“I was happy with today’s race,” Carter said. “Dajour (Braxton) and I ran together. It was good. Shadow Ridge will be tough. There’s some really good competition (in the Sunset Region). Hopefully, we’ll be ready. Our team is coming together well.”
Shadow Ridge won the Northwest boys race, led by their own dynamic duo of Nick Oberdin (14:19.4) and David Peters (14:23.2), who posted the two fastest times of the day among the boys.
“Yeah, we just got out and kept the pace,” Oberdin said. “We’ll be ready for regionals.”
Arbor View’s Cole Jones (14:54.9), Palo Vede’s Christian Castellanos (14:589) and Shadow Ridge’s Garrett Simpson (15:02.0) rounded out the top five.
Shadow Ridge placed all five of their scoring runners in the top-15 for a team score of 30, narrowly edging Palo Verde (37). The Panthers bunched their five scoring runners in the top-10.
“A couple of our guys were a little off today,” Shadow Ridge coach Patrick Fitzgerald said. “But we’ll be ready for regionals.”
Eldorado’s Eddie Esquivel put on an impressive performance, winning the 3.1-mile Southeast League race at Foothill in 15:59.2, almost 30 seconds ahead of the nearest finisher.
Coronado’s Alan Ekanger was second in 16:29.1, leading the Cougars to the team title with 31 points. Coronado placed four other runners in the top 10, led by Nick Bosse (16:48.7), who was fourth.
Liberty and Foothill each finished with 68 points.
Foothill’s Brian Marshall (16:39.9) was third, and Basic’s Noah Pinto (16:51.4) placed fifth.
In the Southeast girls race, Coronado took three of the top five spots to finish first with 24 points. Foothill was second with 44.
Coronado’s Sara Dort won the race in 19:31.6, followed by teammate Kristen Morrill (19:47.1). Basic’s Jessica Raymond (19:58.4) was third, followed by Foothill’s Ryanne Bailey (20:01.9) and Coronado’s Logan Lucas (20:33.7).
Green Valley won both the boys and girls Northeast League titles, finishing with 19 points in each race.
Carlton Herbert won the boys race in 17:38.6, and the Gators took five of the top six spots. Silverado’s Jonathan Aman (17:53.0) was second, followed by Green Valley’s Michael Patrino (17:55.0), Jesse Rodgers (17:59.4), Tyler Zurcher (17:59.6) and Derrick Summers (18:02.1).
Green Valley’s Lindy Eskin won the Southeast girls race in 20:39.8, and the Gators again took five of the top six spots.
Valley’s Jerry Betemariam was second in 21:00.2, followed by Green Valley’s Sage Andress (21:10.4), Stacie Hall (21:24.7), Jayda Knemeyer (21:27.5) and Marissa Davidson (21:53.3)
Martin Ponce won the 3.1-mile Division I-A Sunrise League boys race in 17:20 to lead host Tech to the team title with 27 points.
Tech’s Zach Zimdars was second in 17:44.
Boulder City was second with 65.
In the Sunrise girls race, Sunrise Mountain’s Ebonique Diaz won the race in 20:03, but it was Desert Pines that captured the team title in a close race with 60 points.
Virgin Valley was second with 66, and Sunrise Mountain had 72.
Boulder City’s Jessica Tobler finished second in 21:07.
In the Sunset League boys race, Clark’s Mucuranyana Amon (17:43) and Flimon Fre (17:46) took the top two spots to lead the Chargers to a first-place finish with 32 points.
Faith Lutheran, led by third-place finisher Chase Wood (18:07), was second with 47.
On the girls side, Faith Lutheran’s Hannah Pavlov won the race in 21:31 to lead the Crusaders to the team title with 30 points.
Pahrump Valley (45) was second, and Clark (48) third.
Clark’s Carrie Rastello finished second individually in 22:18.
The Meadows took the top three spots in the girls race at Tech to finish first with 23 points.
Laughlin was second with 32.
Jeneke Heerema won the 3.1-mile race in 21:02, followed by teammates Krista Thompson (22:07) and Bailey Gosse (22:14).
There were no complete teams in the Division III Southern League boys race, but Indian Springs’ Daniel Highfield won individually in 22:35.