Great runs on home course<br>Latimer takes silver; Noble and O'Connor race to bronze
Mingus Union's cross country team certainly didn't disappoint in its only home appearance of the season.
The Marauder boys earned third overall. Two varsity girls and one boy placed in the top three individually and six varsity runners in all collected medals. A Mingus freshman won her heat, and most wearing Marauder colors dropped their previous best times on the grueling course around Clarkdale-Jerome School.
"A job well done by all the Marauders," coach Jim Bostwick summed up.
Well done indeed.
Colton Noble paced the Mingus boys by taking the bronze in the 97-runner field. The junior finished the hilly 3.2-mile circuit in 19:10.
Fellow junior Cory Romine grabbed 13th place with his 19:31 finish – 1:13 faster than last year's race. Neal Blackford took 24th overall with his 20:14 time – 1:29 faster than last season. The top 25 runners each received medals.
Taylor Duke (30th in 20:37) and Peter Valencia (31st in 20:38) rounded out the varsity scoring.
"The good news is that the boys cut their top five gap to 1:28 – their best of the season," Bostwick said. "But they have a long way to go to compete with Coconino, who had a gap of 25 seconds."
Coconino, ranked 13th in the state, won the boys meet with 65 points (lowest score wins). Paradise Valley finished second with 72 points, followed by Mingus 101, Pinnacle 133 and Highland 166. Thirteen complete boys teams competed.
The Marauders didn't field a full team on the girls' side but would have finished among the leaders had a couple JV runners moved up. All three varsity competitors – Ariel Latimer, Kiera O'Connor and Abbie Swavee – placed in the top 20.
Latimer's result, second place behind Tuba City's Brandi Atene, may have been expected. The Mingus junior, one of the state's best, finished just 14 seconds behind the leader in 22:33.
But then O'Connor surprised many by sprinting home 17 seconds behind Latimer for third overall. O'Connor's time of 22:50 was 50 seconds better than last year's race and more than three minutes faster than her 1999 pace.
"Senior Kiera O'Connor saved her best race of her life for her last home meet," Bostwick said. "This was a great confidence booster in her goal of finishing in the top 10 in the state at the end of the year."
Swavee also improved from last year's race (20 seconds) and took 20th in the field of 80.
Tuba City, ranked 16th in the state, captured the girls title with 57 points, followed by Gilbert Highland 92 and Saguaro 155.
"The (Mingus) girls would have finished tied for third place if we had run the younger girls in the varsity race," Bostwick said. "It is unfortunate that at our home meet we did not do this, but we have four new girls who have only been out for a month.
"(We) felt it was necessary to give these girls one more meet at the JV level before throwing them into a varsity race."
Tera Stutheit won the freshman competition in 28:56, with Shelly Principia taking 14th out of 40 in 31:14. Diana Aspresa placed 21st in the JV girls race in 32:53 with Harmony Chaikin finishing in 34:37.
Junior Greg Burnett paced the Mingus JV boys with a fourth-place run in the field of 66, finishing in 21:27. "He definitely will help out the varsity as he continues to improve in the next few weeks," Bostwick said.
Shane Logan and Kellan O'Connor both received medals in the freshman boys race, taking fifth and ninth respectively against a field of 48. Logan clocked a time of 22:26, while O'Connor came in at 23:11.
Former Mingus Union runner Jack Mann, now at Paradise Valley, returned to his old home course Saturday. The sophomore, who made state last year as a Marauder, placed 12th overall, just ahead of Romine.