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Montoya wins, Raider boys second
The Cibola boys cross country team's second best runner couldn't participate in the nine-school West Wetlands Invitational on Saturday morning.
But even if senior Jose Garcia hadn't been hampered with a sore knee, the way Calexico was running it might not made that much of a difference.
The Bulldogs had three runners in the top four and made the Raiders settle for second place with 54 points. Luis Rodriguez (16 minutes, 59 seconds) finished second, Tony Mayorga (17:09) took third and Victor Martin (17:10) was fourth for Calexico.
“I'm definitely pleased overall. I got to give credit to Calexico, they came in and took it,” Cibola coach Kris Norton said. “We're a little banged up, but even had we been healthy, we were probably going to be taken down today.”
However, Cibola did have three runners finish in the top 10 — including senior Bernie Montoya, who took first with a season-best 15:32.
“I just felt strong. It was a strong run. We had a good time and it felt good to run in front of the city crowd,” Montoya said.
Junior Keanu Nakasawa (17:47) finished ninth and Jesus Chavez (17:49) took 10th for Cibola.
There is a sense that, while the Raiders would have liked to have beaten the Bulldogs on Saturday, they must keep their sights on November.
“We play it safe. You want to win, but you got to be healthy later in the season,” Norton said. “Regionals, sectionals and state. That's the name of the game.”
“I like the progression. These runs that we're doing is what's helping us get to where we want to be in November,” said Montoya, the defending state champion. “We want to stay conservative and save the fresh legs for later in the season.”
Gila Ridge junior Jonathan VanDeberg, who set a course record at the Mohave Invitational on Wednesday, ended up in seventh place with a time of 17:41.
“I just finished in the top seven in basically the whole region so I feel amazing,” VanDeberg said after the race.
After spending the first two miles near the back of the first pack, VanDeberg was around 14th place when Gila Ridge coach Laurel Jordan last saw him until he approached the home stretch.
“The first two miles I felt strong then the final mile I felt a little slow, I almost mentally killed myself. Then I just picked myself up and started picking off other runners,” VanDeberg said.
“I was anticipating him being in the top 10, so it's nice for him to get seventh – it's a good time for him. You're not going to catch Bernie, but that's OK. They aren't even in our division,” Jordan said.
Yuma High junior Filomeno Munoz finished in 25th and Yuma Catholic sophomore Becket Edwards took 30th.
Crossing the finish line four seconds after VanDeberg was Kofa junior Roberto Salazar, who took eighth.
“I think I should have stayed with the pack then speed it up, then I could have beaten my (personal record),” said Salazar, who finished in 17:45. “I should work on my strides because that's what killed me at the end. I could have gotten seventh.”
“I'm happy he was the second local finisher (after Montoya). I think he ran well,” Spanton said of Salazar. “He's only a junior so he's only going to get better.”
Jesse Severson can be reached at email@example.com or at 539-6881. Find him on Facebook at facebook.com/YSJesseSeverson