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Salazar, Hanson lead Kofa to sweept of YC, Yuma High
Although running separate races Wednesday at Kofa, King runners Robert Salazar and Ruth Hanson faced the same common opponents — the weather and the hilly Kofa course.
On a day so hot the race was delayed an hour and 15 minutes, and on the hilliest course in Yuma, Salazar and Hansen each took first by margins of about 80 seconds as the Kofa boys and girls each won their respective meets against Yuma High and Yuma Catholic. The Shamrocks were second in both races and the Criminals third.
“At this point of the year you’re racing against your watch and not other people,” Hanson said. “I had already run this course, and I was trying to beat my personal best, but not today I guess.”
Hanson finished in 21:46, while Gabby Ruiz of Yuma High was in second in 23:01.
“I think I did my best,” Hansen said. “I was about to quit, and I was just like ‘In the name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus, I am going to finish this.’”
Yuma High coach Kyle Hills said he was pleased with the performance both Ruiz and Filomeno Munoz, who paced the boys team in eighth place despite suffering through shin splints.
“I think we thrive on the heat and the hills,” Hills said. “We’re out in the middle of the afternoon, and we’re out on the weekends doing crazy trails like Telegraph Pass, and Pilots’ Knob. We go to crazy places with hills.”
The boys race was dominated by Salazar, who finished in 17:26, comfortably ahead of Becket Edwards in second at 18:45, who stormed ahead of Juan Figueroa and Efrain Romero when the race moved up to the Kofa track after winding through the Kofa campus and up to Smucker Park.
Salazar said he was trying to beat his 16:30, but said the big lead and the hot, hilly course were too much.
“I think it’s both,” Salazar said. “I’m not used to the hills, but I think I’m also at a disadvantage because there’s no one pushing me to finish strong.”
YC hung with Kofa in the team scores, keeping within 10 points on the girls side and 18 on the boys. All five of his runners for the girls finished between fifth and 10th, and that was without No. 1 Adriana Solorzano.
Farr said he though Edwards gave up too big of a lead to Salazar early, falling back to about sixth out of the gate.
“He did come back and finish and catch them, but you can’t give the frontrunner a lead and expect them to come back to you unless you’re Bernie Montoya,” Farr said, referencing the two-time state champion from Cibola. “Becket is still just a sophomore.”
Farr said the girls did the same thing, falling too far back too early. He said that showed what Solorzano means to the team.
“She has taken the role of leadership and has gone out there and taken the pace,” Farr said. “The other girls are pacing off her, and without that today obviously they were a little bit timid. By the time they started thinking about running, it was too late.”
Kofa coach Tom Spanton said he was hoping his top two runners would set personal bests for the Kofa course, but both fell short. Still, he said he was pleased with the performance.
“Their best time on this course, the day was cooler,” Spanton said. “I’m focusing more on late October than early September.”