FLAGSTAFF – There are two dominant themes so far this season in Northern Arizona high school cross country.
Flagstaff and Flagstaff.
The defending Division II state champions in both the boys and girls division, the Eagles made a bold statement in Saturday’s Peaks Invitational that they intend to successfully defend those titles.
Few high school distance programs in Arizona can measure up to Flagstaff in terms of team depth. Saturday, the Eagles elite squads were easy winners in the Peaks “Summit” race. That was especially true of Flagstaff’s girls’ team as the Eagles placed all five of their scoring runners in the top 11 positions to win the team title with a low score of 25, which was 77 points ahead of runner-up Mountain Ridge.
The Flagstaff boys were not so dominant, besting perennial Northland powerhouse Page, 79-123.
But that was only half the story. The Eagles boast both top-end talent but also incredible depth as the Eagles boys and girls Novice and Junior Varsity squads also won their divisions in races that featured between as many as 200 runners.
Flagstaff senior Maddy Christopher led the way in the girls’ elite summit race, covering the 5000-meter Buffalo Park course in 20:44, a quick 6:41-per-mile pace. She was an 8-second winner over sophomore Zoey Delgado from Tucson Salpointe High School.
In the boys elite summit race, Prescott senior Matthew Bradley topped the field, covering 5-kilometers 17:14.4. Page junior Bowen Martin was second in 17:20.
The numbers are down for the Mingus Union High School cross country team this year, but two veteran performers and one upstart all turned in solid performances Saturday in the Peaks Invite.
Mingus senior Hannah DeVore shifted gears in the final mile to finish 48th out of 83 runners in the girls’ summit race. DeVore clocked in at 24:29 over 5K. In the boys summit race, Marauder Junior Cody Wager finished 90th among 113 runners in 21:12.
Also for the Marauders in the boys open junior varsity race, freshman Riley Bliss looked very good, finished 53rd among 219 runners in 21:57.
Saturday, the Mingus runners will compete in the Ray Wherely Invite in Prescott. They will return the Flagstaff’s Buffalo Park Sept. 16 for the Four Corners Invitational.
First-place finish for American Heritage cross country team
An athlete at American Heritage Academy (AHA) took the top spot at the annual “Run on the Ranch” Cross Country meet at Orme school. Orme’s cross country track weaves in and out of horse corals, dormitories and ball fields that make up the campus of the international boarding school.
The course was rocky and dusty and the warm, dry weather this time of year made this race particularly difficult. Unique to Orme School, the runners were led by a rider on horseback. Running behind a galloping horse, athletes were part of a standing tradition at Orme school.
Over 500 athletes came out to compete from dozens of schools from around the state. All the schools were part of the growing Canyon Athletic Association (CAA). This season, AHA put together its first Cross Country team since they joined the CAA and they made their debut appearance with a small squad of just 4 athletes.
Undeterred by their small team, AHA athletics came through with an uncharacteristically strong race for a brand new cross country program. AHA’s Trenton Stafford, tackled the tough terrain and pulled out a decisive victory in the 5K event with a time of 19:46. Stafford’s time was not only the best among other Division 1 schools, but it was the best time overall at the competition.
AHA was also thrilled to see strong finishes with their other runners, Ira Thompson, Andy Hayes and Nathan Stafford. On a special note, Andy, a 7th grader, ran in the high school race with the AHA high school team and finished his first 5K competition in his running career.
Coach Mark Stafford said, “I’m really pleased that our runners came out so strong. It is a big deal for our program to begin the season with a first place finisher. We are also all really proud of the effort we saw from every athlete. I think American Heritage will be a serious cross country competitor this season.”
American Heritage Academy is a public charter school located in Cottonwood.
-Courtesy, American Heritage Academy
George Kyte Classic NCAA Division 1 Division
Defending NCAA Men’s Division 1 national champions Northern Arizona University look as strong as ever as the Lumberjacks swept the top seven places in the Men’s Division 1 division of the George Kyte classic Saturday at Buffalo Park. NAU won the meet with a perfect score of 15. UCLA was second with 49 points and Arizona State University was third with 100 points.
The NAU trio of Peter Lomong, Tyler Day and Andy Trouard crossed the finish line with near-identical times of 23:02 for the 4.5-mile course.
In the women’s Division 1 race, the Lady Lumberjacks also prevailed, winning with a low score of 46 over ASU (62) and UCLA (65).
Addi Zerrenner, a junior at UofA, won the 2.6-mile race in 15:06.
George Kyte Classic Open College Division
During his 18 years as Mingus Union cross country coach, Jim Bostwick turned out countless top-quality distance runners.
Two of them are still making a name for themselves in the collegiate ranks.
Saturday, former Mingus standouts Jordan Bramblett and Skyler Storie turned in top-10 finishes in the Open College Division of the George Kyte Classic.
Bramblett, a junior returning All American at Embry-Riddle University, finished 6th overall in the 4.5-mile race in 24:39. His teammate, sophomore Matthew Siegel, was 7th in 24:44 as Embry-Riddle won the open college race with a low score of 27.
In the women’s open college race, Dixie State senior Skyler Storie, another former Mingus runner coached by Bostwick, was 7th overall, covering the 2.6-mile distance in 16:50.
Arizona State prep rankings
Overall in Arizona high schools so far this season, according to the rankings at AZ athletic.net, Mountain View Mesa’s Carson Klepinger has the fastest 5000-meter time in the state with a 16:15 clocking. On the girls side, talented Chandler junior Morgan Foster leads the girls rankings with an 18:23 time for 5K.