Most Viewed Stories
Raising the bar
They're back and ready for a challenge.
Juniors Bernie Montoya and Monica Huston have returned to the Cibola cross country team with one goal on their minds: be better than last year.
Montoya, the reigning cross country state champ, knows that this year won't be necessarily be an easy repeat.
“This year is going to be difficult,” Montoya said. “I'm pretty much the target. Everyone's going to want me to do the work.”
Cibola coach Kris Norton said that even though he wants to see Montoya repeat, he knows that other teams will be striving to beat him.
“Bernie understands there are going to be some young kids coming after him,” Norton said. “At the same time, we have set our sights on high.”
Huston is focused on finally catching her rival, Sarah Fawkler, last year's state championship. Both Norton and Huston said she has been training every day to get an edge on her competition.
“I'm working on my mental toughness,” Huston said. “Every race I race against her — except the 800 — she's beaten me. So I'm going to just try to go in the race in the beginning with her.”
Huston said she will work on getting her times down in order to reach her ultimate goal of winning a state title.
But they won't be running alone.
Helping to strengthen the boys team are Alonso and Christian Perez, Jose Garcia and Kenau Nakaesuauwa. Norton said these runners will become the top runners for Cibola this season.
Ally Jeffers, Shannon Norton and Autumn Amidon are the top returners who Norton said will help give the girls team a shot at a state title.
Norton said he has equal, but high, expectations for both teams as they head into the season.
“We want to win the city championship and we actually want to win the sectional championship since there are only three sections in the state,” Norton said. “We want to be able to set ourselves up for a run at state.”
Norton said that the overall youth of the team is something he believes will work in the Raiders' favor to achieve those goals.
“To be young and to be as tough as I think we're going to be is very exciting,” Norton said. “I think we're going to challenge some of the best teams in the state. Our mileage has been great and we're really looking forward to this season.”
Cibola will open its season at home against El Centro-Central on Sept. 6 at 4:30 p.m.
Both Montoya and Huston have also begun looking beyond the borders of Arizona. The pair want to be part of the Nike Cross Nationals, a competition that would showcase their talents on the national level.
Montoya competed in the competition last year and said he'd love to do it again. Huston is looking to go for the first time, and she said it's something she really wants to experience.
Norton said that even though an individual Nike National title — the Winged Goddess of Victory statue — sounds like an impossible goal, he believes it's something Montoya could accomplish.
“He's going to try to run with the best runners in the nation,” Norton said. “It's obviously very tough. Only one (runner) in America gets to win that one. As high as that goal sounds, you have to set some high challenges. But Bernie is, of course, a very special kid.”