Del Sol’s Nick Priego wasn’t concerned with his time on Friday at the Class 4A Sunrise Region boys cross country meet at Veterans Memorial Park in Boulder City.
That turned out to be the perfect strategy.
Priego won what turned out to be a tactical race, pulling away from the pack to take the 3.1-mile race in a relatively slow time of 17 minutes, 23.3 seconds.
“My coach told me to run for place and not time,” Priego said. “That’s what I did; I was able to pull away after the second mile.”
A lead pack that included Priego, Doug Harris of Green Valley, Martin Ponce of Tech, Brian Marshall of Foothill, Alan Ekanger of Coronado, and Alex McMillan of Valley hung on each other’s heels through the first half of the race.
Harris was second in 17:29.6 and McMillan third (17:35.5), followed by Marshall (17:36.3) and Ekanger (17:44).
Green Valley won as a team by packing four runners in the top eight and the finishing with 43 points.
“I was ecstatic with the way they ran today,” Green Valley coach Blaine Thompson said. “They ran with more heart and character than I’ve ever seen a group from our school run. And we’ve had a couple (teams) that have been substantially better.”
The battle for the second spot at state couldn’t have been closer. Tech, Coronado and Foothill each had one runner in the top 10 and all five scoring runners in the top 30.
In the end, the Roadrunners prevailed with 76 points, edging Coronado (78) and Foothill (85).
It was the second year in a row that Tech had managed to pull a mild upset and make it to state.
“Miguel Garcia really came through for us today,” Tech coach Tony Kyriacou said. “Miguel has been our No. 4 runner most of the year, but today he led the team and finished ninth overall.”
The Sunrise girls race also was up for grabs through the first two miles. Jessica Raymond of Basic and Ebonique Diaz of Sunrise Mountain were one-two at the mile, closely followed by Alyse Vanek of Foothill and Sara Dort of Coronado. Dort was not to be denied, winning the race in 20:32.9. Diaz was second in 20:40.9.
“I wanted to win so bad, after last year,” said Dort, who placed 13th in the Sunrise Region meet in 2010. “I finished strong. I knew at the top of the hill, by the lake, I had it.”
Basic’s Jessica Raymond placed third in 20:45.8, followed by Coronado’s Kelly Smith in 20:49.0 and Taylor Lauten in 21:16.7.
Coronado’s girls placed all five of their scoring runners in the top 15 en route to a winning score of 39.
Green Valley was the runner-up with 52 points, paced by Lindy Eskin’s sixth-place finish in 21:19.1.