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Huston, Jeffers boost Cibola to first-place team finish
Junior Ally Jeffers spent nearly the entire race battling River Valley’s Courtney Lewis at the nine-school Cibola West Wetlands Invitational on Saturday morning.
The two came down the final stretch and Lewis managed to distance herself just enough. Jeffers fell to the ground out of exhaustion after crossing the finish line. However, Jeffers’ third place finish helped the Raiders finish with 37 points to take first place in the team portion of the invitational.
“During the race, we played the back and forth of she’s going to try and go then I’m going to try and go but all I could do was stick with her. That’s the best I could do,” said Jeffers, who had a season-best time of 20 minutes, 35 seconds. “I felt really good, I just had stomach cramps towards the end. Everything felt good during the race then the last half mile I cramped up.”
Considering Jeffers’ teammate, the junior knew she was racing for second place.
“My coach told us to stick behind the lead girl and of course (Cibola senior) Monica Huston is the number one runner but he said stick behind that next girl and I should be okay,” Jeffers said.
Huston finished in first place with a time of 18:49 and said she was happy with her kick, even though it came against invisible racers since she had such a big lead.
“It’s hard to kick but (Cibola coach Kris Norton) told me that this is the point (in the state tournament) where everybody is going to start surging, so are you going to go with them and push yourself?” Huston said.
“It’s challenging but the good ones do it. They run strong if there’s other runners or they’re by themselves,” Norton said. “I’m definitely happy with how she did it. Could she have gone faster if she was going against some of the top runners in the state? Maybe. You got to get the victory first.”
Sophomore Alexandra Aceves finished in eighth place for the Raiders.
Gila Ridge junior Madison Haynes finished after Jeffers in fourth place with a time of 21:14. Her teammates, sophomore Camille Ochoa and senior Melia Harman, were right behind her. Ochoa finished in sixth place at 21:37 and Harman took ninth in 22:23. The trio’s top ten finishes helped the Hawks finish second for the meet.
“They have been strong. They work really well at staying in a pack and then challenging each other,” Gila Ridge coach Laurel Jordan said of Haynes, Ochoa and Harman. “It’s so important because they can push each other and in meets like this, that’s where you get points.”
Yuma High’s top runner, Gabby Ruiz, finished in 16th place and Yuma Catholic’s Adriana Solorzano took 23rd.
The other Yuma-area runner to finish in the top ten was Kofa senior Ruth Hanson, whose time of 21:27 was good enough for fifth place.
“In the second mile, that’s when I started feeling the best and was really pushing myself,” said Hanson, who also admits she may have kicked prematurely. “I think it was too soon, because at the end I was totally dead.”
“She ran really well. She didn’t hydrate enough and I don’t think that’s a reason why she fell back but she felt miserable after the race, that’s for sure,” Kofa coach Tom Spanton said.
There seemed to be a difference in opinions for some of the runners participating in a Saturday morning meet — opposed to the afternoon meets they’re used to.
“It’s nice to have it right after you wake up because you feel refreshed and you’re not super tired after a long day at school,” said Ochoa.
“Racing in the morning is great by comparison because in the afternoon it’s so hot, it’s miserable being 110 degrees,” said Jeffers. “And today there was a nice breeze.”
Others, however, felt that it took a little getting used to.
“I think it’s harder because our bodies aren’t used to it. They’re used to running in the afternoon — getting the water and the food into our system,” Hanson said.
“It’s tough when you train in the afternoon and you don’t expect the kids to wake up at 4 in the morning or 5 in the morning and get fluids in them,” Spanton said. “In the past we used to always run at six in the morning and competed in the afternoon and the kids weren’t acclimated. Today it was the opposite.”
Jesse Severson can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6881. Find him on Facebook at facebook.com/YSJesseSeverson