The Mingus Union Cross Country team ran in its first meet of the season at the Ray Wherley Invitational at Embry-Riddle University in Prescott on Saturday.
It was a 'different' meet to start year, with lots of races. Each athlete on each team ran against corresponding athletes on other team - so seven varsity runners, seven races, seven against seven, six against six, etc. Finally all the No. 1 runners ran against each other at end of day. Not only that but usually in normal meet just five out of a team's best seven score and by place, not time.
Well at this race, all seven runners' time added up and low time wins the team competition. This event was mainly where the heart soul of a team - the middle pack kids who scrounge for points all year - get a chance to run up front against their peers.
In the boys race all seven runners counted and the Marauders' No. 6 and No. 7 were two new freshmen to the team, so they were a little nervous, but both passed with flying colors.
Freshman Chris Ortiz finished 9th in his No. 7 race in 19:27 on the 3-mile course.
"It was a nice start to his career," said coach Jim Bostwick.
Freshman Juan Well then raised the bar by winning his No. 6 race. Coach Bostwick had no idea how he would run.
"Evidently he is going to be one of those athletes who run as fast as it takes to win," said coach Bostwick. Well finished the course in 17:48.
Then the heart and soul of the Mingus team, who never usually get a chance to win races, took the opportunity and literally ran with it. The Marauders won every race of the day. Sophomore Hunter Rauch, the No. 5 runner on the team finished in 17:23. Senior Alex Stratz in the No. 4 race finished in 16:59. Senior Daniel Jaimes in the No. 3 race, finished in 16:38. Junior Wilson Cutbirth led the No. 2's race with a time of 16:28 and senior Tim Freriks won the No. 1's race in the day's fastest time of 15:40, defeating defending State Champ Brian Shrader of Sinagua in another of their many memorable races.
As a result, the Marauders (1:59:45) won the meet by over two minutes over second place Ceasar Chavez (2:02:14), third place Alhambra (2:03:00), fourth place Sunnyside ( 2:04:28) and fifth place Brophy 2:06:12). There were 19 teams in all.
The girls' races were run simultaneously with the boys' races. The consistent Marauders snuck into the top five overall, finishing in the No. 5 spot out of 16 teams.
None of girls won their respective races, but they all finished in top 10.
"This was our best finish in recent memory here," said coach Bostwick.
Flagstaff won the meet in 2:06:36, followed by Mountain Ridge (2:07:40), Prescott (2:15:07), Shadow Mt. (2:17:37) and then Mingus (2:19:26).
The Marauders' best finisher on the girls' team was Junior Chelsea Ishimoto in 4th place with a time of 20:07 (over the 2.6 mile course) in No. 5 race. Junior Des Braly finished in 8th place in the No. 7 race in 21:40. Freshman Emma Schraner placed sixth in the No. 6 race in 20:15. Junior Staci Hewitson placed 8th in No. 4 race in 20:42. Freshman Torey Braly finished in 5th place in No. 3 race (19:17). Sophomore Erin Freriks placed 6th in the No. 2 race in 19:03 and senior Carly Blair finished 9th in the No. 1 race in 18:55 (compared to her 24-minute time from her freshman year at the same race.)
"That made the day for us," said coach Bostwick with coach Addis. "It was just a real solid team effort by the new freshman running varsity and the returners who all improved their times from last year."
The cross-country team laces up again on Saturday for the Four Corners Invitational in Flagstaff.