KC boys, Shiprock, Aztec girls win at district

Navajo Prep teams take first in District 1-3A

Jake Newby

FARMINGTON — Five San Juan County area cross-country teams won their respective district meets this weekend, and five others ran well enough to secure spots in the state meets next week.

Shiprock's Lacey Howe celebrates her win at the 2015 District 
1-4A Cross Country Championships in Wingate. Howe finished
in 22 minutes and six seconds to earn her second straight individual title.

Kirtland Central’s boys and Shiprock’s girls won the District 1-4A meets in Wingate on Saturday, while the Aztec boys defended their home course by winning the District 1-5A boys race on Friday.

Also on Friday, both Navajo Prep teams came out on top at the Crownpoint District 1-3A meet.

The Aztec boys overcame top two individual finishes from Miyamura runners to edge the Patriots 56-59 for the top spot.

“Our boys, they just rose to the occasion,” Aztec coach Steve Lanier said. “I laid out my expectations for them this week and they just went and outdid themselves.”

The Lady Chieftains have been a well-oiled machine in 2015 and seem to be improving by the week. The same goes for senior Lacey Howe, who won the individual district meet for the second straight year, lifting Shiprock to a first-place point total of 19, its lowest team score of the season.

“She made her move at the mile, which was a sharp hill, and she was never closely challenged.” Shiprock coach Alice Kinlichee said of Howe.

The Kirtland Central and Zuni boys tied for first with 36 points apiece, but KC’s sixth-fastest runner finished before Zuni’s, which was the tie-breaker.

For the fourth time out of his seven races, freshman Kashon Harrison placed first. His first-year dominance has done wonders for KC's team this season.

The Navajo Prep boys and girls both earned first out of the five schools that ran in Crownpoint. Sarah Chacon was the individual district champion. Cameron Becenti (second) and Mathis Quintana (third) led the Prep boys to victory.

The Lady Eagles team will take a hit at state next weekend without one of its top runners, Destinee Dee, who will instead be competing in the Indian National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

Coach Stephanie McDonald said she thinks the boys will build off the district win, but admits it will be an uphill battle for her girls.

“The boys will perform well, they know what they’re up against,” McDonald said. “But the girls are going to have to step up without Destinee. They saw a preview of their top competition at Rio Rancho, so hopefully they know what to look out for.”

All five district-winning teams from this weekend will run at state.

A top three finish at district was required to secure a spot in the Albuquerque state meets. The Piedra Vista boys and girls, the Aztec and Kirtland Central girls and the Shiprock boys earned a spot as well.

PV coach Sampson Sage said that for the most part, his team’s performances — his girls placed second while his boys took third — lived up to his expectations on Friday.

“Our fifth girl was sick, so she ended up being a minute behind our top four, which hurt our chances at winning,” Sage said. “And on a day that we needed an A-plus from the boys, it wasn’t there.”

Paris Chee snagged fifth in the girls race, while Ben VanOtteson topped the PV boys by taking seventh. Ryan Kruger, who is usually at the front of the PV pack along with Vanotteson, finished in 14th. He was the fourth fastest Panther.

Elana Kresl has been great for Aztec lately and she put together one of her best runs of the season Friday by winning the girls meet and propelling the Lady Tigers to a third-place finish.

The Aztec Tigers boys cross country team poses with its District 1-5A cross-country plaque on 
Friday at the Tigers Sports Complex.

“The girls race went first and I think it fired up the boys team to see Elana do so well,” Lanier said.

LaKyla Yazzie was the district runner-up in the 1-4A girls race. She helped the Lady Broncos earn third, but by the skin of their teeth – Thoreau was two points behind them.

Aaron Gould was excellent for the Shiprock boys, grabbing fourth overall to help the Chieftains punch their ticket to state.

“It was a nice, hilly course and Aaron maintained it really well,” Shiprock coach Brian Paniagua said. “Another guy who ran well for us was Arvin Begay. He ran a really gutsy race, picking guys off up the course. So I was happy with that as well.”

The Farmington teams did not qualify for state, as both finished in fourth. However they will be sending McKinzey Allee, Danny Hickman, Tanin McDermott and Melina McDermott to Albuquerque as individuals.

“There wasn’t a lot of patience shown by our teams,” FHS coach Kevin Deswood said. “Our four runners are going to be running their hardest. Hopefully McKinzey gets a top 10 finish, and we’ll see how Melina does dealing with a bruised foot.”

Bloomfield failed to qualify for state as a team and individually.

“I told everybody not to be runners but to be racers (on Saturday),” Bloomfield coach Julian Garcia said. “It just didn’t pan out. But we do have all our top runners coming back on both sides.”

Also over the weekend, the Shiprock Northwest boys were crowned champions of District 1-2A.

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