The Panther runners took nine of the top 12 places on their way to a third-straight district title Saturday in Farmington.
“It’s exciting because this is the first time we’ve broken out our top nine varsity runners,” said PV head coach Sampson Sage. “We’ve never really had a complete team performance, and it’s really good practice for next week at state. Gaining that confidence and knowing that when they push and work together that good things will happen is key going forward.”
Brandon Levi won the individual title for PV with a time of 16:00.59, and Panther teammate Harrison Fleming came in second after finishing in 16:27.53.
“I just wanted to make a statement,” Levi said. “I wanted to start strong and finish strong. I felt confident throughout this whole race. Not a single doubt was in my mind.”
Ryan Kruger took fourth for PV, while Jaron Harmon, Cristian Fowler, Nathan Johnson and Keenan Lee all finished inside the top 10.
“The team performed excellent,” Fleming said. “It was a strong showing. It was a good chance to get out and show the area what we can do. Hopefully, we can portray that at state as well.
Farmington had two runners place in the top five with Damon Shorty finishing in third and Josh Miller-Castillo placing fifth as the Scorpions finished in second as a team.
Aztec took third with Ethan Tso leading the Tigers in 13th place.
Kirtland Central placed fourth as a team. Aaron Bunny was the top Bronco finisher in 10th place.
The Lady Tigers didn’t have a top-four finisher, but had four runners place in the top nine to claim the girls’ title for the third-straight year.
Jessica Kresl took fifth place with a time of 20:44.94 and was followed closely by three Aztec teammates — Sierra Martinez in sixth, Elana Kresl seventh and Naomie Teasyathwh in ninth — as the Lady Tigers team score of 40, edged out PV who finished at 45 and Kirtland who finished at 51.
“We knew it was going to be a close race,” said Aztec head coach Steve Lanier. “It was a battle, but we asked the girls to step up and they did.”
Kerstin Ortiz won the individual title for the Lady Panthers, finishing with a time of 19:29.18, and Paris Chee took third for PV with her time of 19:58.62.
“It was really exciting,” Ortiz said on the title. “I just came out relaxed and wanted to have fun.”
The Lady Broncos were led by Sheri Adair in second place and Genea Baca in fourth.
Melina McDermott was the top runner for the Lady Scorpions, finishing in 11th place, as Farmington finished in fourth as a team.
The top three teams from each race qualify for the state meet in Rio Rancho.
“It’s a sport where all of the kids know each other and know who they are running against,” Lanier said. “We’ll all be rooting for each other in that meet.”