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Cross country runners prepare for state meet
As a junior, Cibola's Monica Huston had her sights set on Xavier's Sarah Fakler at the 2011 Arizona Interscholastic Association Division I Cross Country State Meet.
Huston pushed a little too hard, ran out of gas and dropped to eighth in the state while Fakler cruised to a first-place finish.
On Saturday, Huston gets another shot at Fakler in the 2012 AIA Division I Cross Country State Meet on Saturday at Cave Creek Golf Course along with several other teams and runners from the area. On this go around against Fakler, Huston and Cibola coach Kris Norton have a slightly different strategy.
“Last year we went for broke and went after her. We felt like that cost her a little bit and got her passed by a few girls,” Norton said. “This year we're going to run a little more conservative in the first mile and then in the second and third mile, run a little more aggressively. Not that we're running for runner-up, we're going to put ourselves in a position to have a good last mile.”
Huston was the fourth non-senior to cross the finish line last year — behind Fakler, Desert Vista junior Jenna Maack (sixth) and Xavier freshman Lauren Kinzle (seventh).
“Any kid that's close is going to look for a way to beat that No. 1 kid and knock them off,” Norton said.
Huston joins Ally Jeffers, Alexandra Aceves, Shanna Norton and Yocelyn Walle to make up the strong Cibola girls team. For the Raider boys, Jose Garcia, Christian Alva, Keanu Nakasawa, Alex Marquez and Josh Garren will be running but the crème de la crème is senior Bernie Montoya, who is going for his third straight cross country state championship. After spending all season with a whirlwind of national attention and college recruiting trips, Norton was worried the distractions could be too much. But as Saturday approaches, Montoya appears to be locked in — focused on finishing a three-peat.
“I'm glad to see the butterflies starting to set in,” Norton said of Montoya, who won last year with a time of 15:46.74. “I'm really pleased with where he's at. There was some concern with all the recruiting trips and what he's about to do (winning three straight titles) is very difficult.”
Gila Ridge will be bringing junior Jonathan VanDeberg as well as its girls team to the Division II meet — including Madison Haynes, who won the Division II Section I race with a time of 20:46.99.
“She's seems excited,” Gila Ridge coach Laurel Jordan said. “I know there's a lot of pressure on her, but it's also not her senior year, so that takes away from some of the pressure.”
Joining Haynes are Camille Ochoa, Melia Harman, Candra Land, Hannah Moore and Zaina Becerra for the Hawks girls team.
Kofa will be sending Ruth Hansen as an individual to the Division I state meet after she qualified by running a 20:32.84 to finish 10th in the Division I Section I meet. Yuma High sends Filomeno Munoz — who finished 20th in the Division II Section I meet with a time of 18:49.80 — to the Division II boys meet. On the girls' side, Yuma High will be sending Gabby Ruiz, who finished seventh in the sectional meet with a time of 21:46.57.
“For Gabby, she was kind of skeptical going into it,” Yuma High coach Kyle Hills said of Ruiz entering the sectional meet. “She had a knee injury last year so she didn't compete in sectionals or state. It was a new experience for her. She came in nervous, but she did great.”
At the Division IV meet, Yuma Catholic is sending junior Adriana Solorzano and the boys team, which consists of junior Jaime Casillas, sophomore Becket Edwards, sophomore Adam Gump, sophomore Adam Badilla, junior Rico Jaramillio, junior Tito Sandigo and freshman Nels Rogers.
“They're excited but it's time to put it into perspective that they're young,” Yuma Catholic coach Ralph Farr said. “It's a good experience but I also told them it's hard to be there and with how we ran, we can still take some time off.”
Jesse Severson can be reached at email@example.com or at 539-6881. Find him on Facebook at facebook.com/YSJesseSeverson
2012 Cross Country State Meet Schedule
Division III Girls 9:15 a.m.
Division I Boys 9:45 a.m.
Division III Boys 10:15 a.m.
Division I Girls 10:45 a.m.
Division IV Girls 11:30 a.m.
Division II Boys 12:00 p.m.
Division IV Boys 12:30 p.m.
Division II Girls 1:00 p.m.
Admission: $10 for adults, $6 for students with ID card, children under five are free