At Clarkdale-Jerome School on Saturday, the Mingus Cross Country team laced up and took on almost 500 athletes attending the Mingus Invitational.
The 3.2-mile course, which included the "hill," which makes the course one of the toughest in the state, was no problem for the boys varsity team, finishing in first place with 22 points.
It was their biggest turnout ever according to coach Jim Bostwick with 23 teams and just about 500 athletes participating in the event. The first race of the day had an open section for non-varsity athletes and a freshman division. They ran together but finished in different finishing chutes. This tradition started many years ago by former coach John O'Donnell was to allow freshmen to compete for awards among themselves since cross country doesn't have separate freshman teams, unlike many sports.
There was no team scoring for this race. Mingus freshman Hunter Rauch was the 1st place will in the 46-runner field with a time of 19:07, finishing by over a minute ahead of the pack.
Travis Neuhaus medaled by finishing in top 10 in 8th place in 21:28, Nick Williams was 24th in 24:03, Tanner Johnson was 31st in 24:50.
"I am really pleased with all the freshmen," said coach Jim Bostwick. "They will be an awesome varsity team in a few years."
There were no freshmen girls in this race as both of Bostwick's freshmen girls are running on the varsity team.
In boys open race juniors Nate Russell and Alex Stratz dominated the race, finishing 1st and 2nd in 19:04 and 19:30 (both times that would of put them in the top 25 in the varsity race).
Stratz was the Marauders' "Most Improved Marauder" for the year on this course, showing the biggest improvement on the team from last years race, coming in almost a minute faster.
Sophomore Logan Jenkins was 21st in 71-runner field in 22:55, Justin Boyd was 30th in 24:07, sophomore Jake Addis finished in the top half of the field in 35th in 24:33, Jacob Romfo was 37th in 24:51 and junior Joe Hockman was 65th in 29:23.
In girls open: Sophomore Des Braly finished 19th in 59 runner field in 28:51, running right with Jerelyn Butler in 20th in 28:59. Sophomore Ellie Comstock was 44th in 32:36, Kerissa Clark was 47th in 32:49, Jamie Nez was 49th in 33:19, and Chelsie Schadrach was 51st in 34:01.
The girls varsity team is still having some problems with all seven girls running well on the same day - it is definitely a team sport. But the athletes and coaches have a few more weeks left in season to get them to perform at their peak.
Regardless, the girls did well finishing in fifth place in the 18-team field. The girls were led by senior Nicole Powers in 6th place in the 125-runner field (her 3rd top 10 finish here in her career).
Junior Carly Blair was way up, having her best race of year with a 7th place finish, her best finish at the Mingus course, moving up from 13th last year. Frosh Sarah Russell was the only runner on the boys and girls team to improve her per mile pace on the toughest course they have run. She had a great day, finishing in 39th in 25:05. Senior Lisa Rauch was in 48th in 25:31, freshman Erin Freriks was 54th in 25:49, senior Ali Hayes was 55th in 25:50 and sophomore Staci Hewitson was 79th in 27:11.
The boys varsity won for the second year in a row, keeping their top spot overall in the state. The Marauders did very well, finishing 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 9th (12th and 23 for the non-scoring runners) for a score of 22 points, beating second place Sinagua, which had 120 points, Mesquite 3rd in 124, a great 4th place finish by Sedona in 131 and Prescott in 5th in 136 in the 21-team field.
"The boys ran great, the only down side I could come up with was that our top five gap was over a minute which will kill us at bigger meets," said coach Bostick. "But that might have been a result of Tim Freriks and the super sophomore that everyone is talking about around state Brian Schrader of Sinagua who was undefeated for the season, besting Tim two weeks ago."
Well Freriks let it be known he is not going to go down easy as he handed the sophomore his first loss with a five second win 17:12 to 17:17 winning the invitational for the 2nd straight year.
"Stay tuned for what I would guarantee to be another great race here as the Grand Canyon regional race will be on our course here in four weeks," said Bostwick.
The rest of the Marauders also did quite well. Senior Sam Hayes finished in 3rd in the 146-runner field in 17:40, senior Bruce Logan clocked a time of 17:49 in 4th place (both of them finished off their careers improving their times each year they ran on this course from the first time they ran the course as frosh in about 21 minutes).
Sophomore Wilson Cutbirth ran his usual great race in 5th place in 18:01.
"He has a great feel for pace and a killer instinct at the end of the race, something his middle school coach Micah Swenson taught him as I don't think I have told what to do before a race in two years and I don't think I will start now," said coach Bostwick.
Senior Ky Mickelsen finished in the most important spot on the team this week as their 5th (last scoring) runner in 9th place in 18:27.
"Each week we seem to have a new 5th runner and as long as he is within a minute of our No. 1 runner, we will be fine," said Bostwick.
Daniel Jaimes finished 11th in 18:38 improving his time for the 3rd straight year, and Stephan Filkins made his varsity debut for the season, medaling in 23rd place in 19:20.
Next up for the Marauders is the Prescott Multiple at Embry Riddle University today at 3 p.m.