Yazzie, Harrison take first in KC Ridge Run

Shiprock girls win again, Piedra Vista boys and girls each take second

Jake Newby

FARMINGTON — Kirtland Central cross-country runners Kashon Harrison and LaKyla Yazzie did their school proud by finishing first individually in the Kirtland Ridge Run on Friday at Kirtland Elementary School.

LaKyla Yazzie of Kirtland Central runs ahead of the competition on Oct. 23 at the Kirtland Ridge Run in Kirtland.

Not only have they been the best runners on the KC teams, Harrison and Yazzie have been some of the best runners in District 1-4A, and they didn’t miss out on a chance to shine in their home meet.

Harrison had a first-place time of 16 minutes and 18 seconds, and he helped the Broncos win Friday’s 12-school boys meet. Yazzie was clocked at 19:33 for a Kirtland girls team that took fifth out of 12.

“I was happy with the boys, obviously,” KC coach Lenny Esson said. “Kashon and Aaron (Bunny) are going to do what they need to do as our top runners. At this point of the season, it’s about getting our third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh runners up to move on up and help our gap time.”

Bunny was spectacular, as well, as the runner-up of the boys race.

While Esson believes his boys squad can do some damage at the state meet, he doesn’t have the same expectations for a young KC girls team.

“LaKyla is in a league of her own right now, and we don’t really have the depth behind her to make a run at state,” Esson said. “We’d like to see our girls finish top two in the district and then get some experience at state and build toward something great in the next couple years.”

Shiprock, Piedra Vista, Farmington, Navajo Prep, Aztec and Bloomfield also ran at Kirtland Elementary. The Ridge Run was the final tuneup for the Four Corners schools before they go on to compete in their respective district meets next week.

As usual, the Lady Chieftains were head and shoulders above their competition.

Shiprock’s girls earned first with 28 points, which was 60 points better than Piedra Vista, the second-place finisher.

Lacey Howe raced to a second-place finish. Lady Chieftains coach Alice Kinlichee has been impressed by Howe’s consistency this year.

“Lacey is just so mentally strong,” Kinlichee said. “She could get off to a slow start, but she almost always wills herself to finish among the top four or five. She’s consistent, but (Friday) was a particularly strong race for her.”

The Piedra Vista boys were as outstanding as the girls, as they earned second place, as well.

“It was a really nice way to end the regular season, a real confidence booster,” PV coach Sampson Sage said. “The boys had a 55-second pack time, which ranks up there with one of the best overall times since I’ve been here. And the girls' pack time was 86, which was their best of the year.”

Ryan Kruger (eighth) and Ben Vanotteson (10th) were the fastest PV boys on Friday, while Paris Chee (ninth) and Cassandra Crowell (10th) led the way for the Lady Panthers.

The Shiprock boys bounced back from a disappointing effort in Rio Rancho by claiming third place.

Aaron Gould crossed the finish line at 17 minutes flat, good enough for third among boys. Chieftains coach Brian Paniagua thought it may have been the junior’s best performance of the season.

“Aaron really uncorked one. He beat a bunch of guys he hadn’t beaten all year long,” Paniagua said. “He kind of blew up our pack time singlehandedly, but that’s a good problem to have.”

Farmington’s teams both earned fourth place, with freshman phenom McKinzee Alley landing in fourth among the girl runners.

Farmington coach Kevin Deswood said his teams are trending upward with the district race on the horizon.

Kirtland Central's Kashon Harrison runs in first on Friday at the Kirtland Ridge Run in Kirtland.

“Our times have been steadily dropping the last three weeks at practice,” Deswood said. “We’re peaking at the right time.”

Danny Hickman (fourth) and Tanin McDermott (sixth) carried the Scorpions, just as they have all season.

Led by Elana Kresl’s great day and third-place finish, Aztec’s girls placed third.

“Elana wasn’t great down at Rio Rancho, but she ran real well (on Friday),”  Aztec coach Steve Lanier said of his best female runner. “When she runs, the rest of the girls run better. She’s a role model, and she’s definitely the leader.”

On the boys side, the Tigers dealt with injuries to Matt Smith and Adam Jones and subsequently took fifth, led by Andrew Day’s 14th-place finish.

Paced by Clayton White’s 42nd-place finish, the Bloomfield boys landed in 10th. Bloomfield was only able to bring four girls to Kirtland, so the Lady Bobcats didn’t place.

Bloomfield coach Julian Garcia’s goal is for White to earn a spot at state.

“Neither of our teams are going to go to the state tournament, I know that,” Garcia said. “But Clayton might be able to make it there with a good time next week.”

Navajo Prep’s teams both earned sixth place. The girls were again led by Sarah Chacon and her 13th-place run. Mathias Quintana was the best male runner for the Eagles, and he earned 17th place.

Prep coach Stephanie McDonald was unavailable for comment on Saturday.

PV, Farmington, Aztec and Navajo Prep will compete in the District 1-5A meet at Aztec High School at 3 p.m. Friday.

Shiprock, KC and Bloomfield will be in Wingate Saturday for the District 1-4A meet. The races there begin at 11 a.m.

Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.