Christian Franklin remains in the learning stage when it comes to competing in cross country — which is a scary thought to many opposing state cross country coaches and runners.
On Saturday, Franklin took home the Class 3A boys state individual title at the state cross country meet in Boulder City.
The junior jumped to an early lead and never looked back, crossing the finish line in 16 minutes, 22.2 seconds over the 3.1-mile course at Veterans Memorial Park. Franklin’s time was the best of the day among the three boys races and more than half a minute better than any of his 3A competitors.
“My expectations (going into the season) was just to get a good experience and take something for track and field season,” Franklin said. “But, I realized I was doing well and eventually I wanted to be the fastest over anybody else regardless of classifications.”
Franklin took the lead within the first mile with only Moapa Valley freshman Preston Humes sticking close to him. However, Franklin then pulled away by a few meters by the end of the first mile and kept going from there. Typical for him, Franklin even sprinted the final 75 meters though no one was within sight behind him.
Elko senior Alex Klekas was second in 16:53.5.
Fellow Valley runner Aiden White, a senior, was sixth overall in 17:24.6. Humes finished eighth and a third Valley runner, Donavon Jones, was 10th.
Still, Valley was only fourth as a team with 82 points, behind Elko (54), Spring Creek (59), and Tahoe-Truckee (79).
Centennial used impressive depth — placing six within the first 32 — to score 59 points and take first place. Desert Oasis managed to beat out Carson for second, 90-94. Arbor View was fourth (104) and Shadow Ridge was fifth (106) as Southern schools took four of the first five team spots.
“It was all about practice and preparation,” said senior Alexander Miller, who was the top Bulldogs finisher in eighth place. “We have been training hard all season, getting up at 5:30 a.m., and working to get better. There was no pressure today because we did all the hard work beforehand and we just went out and ran.”
In the individual race, Spanish Springs’ Daniel Horner went out quickly in hopes of rebounding from the Northern Regionals meet when he collapsed while leading the race in the last half mile. A large pack did go with him at first, but eventually he took the lead over with Northern Region champ Matthew Gordon of Galena, next. Third place then became a battle between Desert Oasis’ Conner Nicholas and McQueen’s Matthew Rice.
Horner had a 25-meter lead going into the last quarter mile, but he started to fade and Gordon caught him with 50 meters to go to finish first in 16:39.0 Horner was second in 16:43.9 and Nicholas used a finishing kick to grab third in 16:57.9.
“I wanted to run with Horner, but he took off so fast, I never could catch up,” Nicholas said. “I am still fairly happy with third place.”
Fellow Desert Oasis senior Landon Morrison took sixth (17:07.2) to help Desert Oasis eventually move up to second in the team standings.
Other individual finishers from Southern Nevada to medal were Shadow Ridge sophomore Joseph Hughes (fifth, 17:06.2) and Arbor View senior Noah Ayala (seventh, 17:09.8).
Jared Marchegger and fellow Sierra Lutheran runner Teagan Hansen nearly went wire-to-wire in a one-two finish. Marchegger won in 16:51.5, and Hansen crossed the finish line in 17:28.3.
The top Southern result was Beatty senior Jose Granados’ third-place finish (17:32.7). Other Southern medalists were Laughlin senior Gonzalo Sanchez (sixth, 18:09.6) and the Meadows senior Ian Cook (seventh, 18:18.7).
North Tahoe scored 37 points to win the state crown with Sierra Lutheran (74) and Silver Stage (75) second and third. The Meadows was fourth with 104 points.