PV, KC ready for jumps in classification

Karl Schneider
  • Shiprock returns three of its top five runners from last year's state title team
  • KC, PV and Prep all make a jump up in classification, creating new challenges for each team
  • Farmington, Bloomfield look to break into the state meet after missing out in 2015

FARMINGTON — The Shiprock girls cross-country team’s defense of the 4A state title begins this week at the Rehoboth Christian Invitational on Friday.

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

The Lady Chieftains captured the title last year, finishing two points clear of runner-up and 2014 state titlist Taos.

Shiprock returns three its top five finishers from last year’s state meet — Khadija Lapahie, Destiny Rockwell and T’Yana Harry, who all finished in the top 20 overall last year.

“They’re running with a lot of determination,” Shiprock coach Alice Kinlichee said of the trio. “They did some work during the summer, and when we had our scrimmage, they are way ahead of where we thought they would be at this point.”

Kinlichee said the two remaining varsity spots are currently up for grabs, but she believes one of the spots will be going to junior Nicole Howe, who has started to separate herself from the rest of the team for the fourth spot.

Looking to catch the Lady Chiefs in 4A will be Navajo Prep, which moved from 3A to 4A this year following class realignment.

After placing fourth in 3A as a young team a year ago, the Lady Eagles are poised to challenge Shiprock and the rest of 4A after returning the core of 2015’s team. Setting the pace for Prep will likely be sophomore Ciera Charley, who placed 12th at the state meet as a freshman.

In 5A, the Aztec girls could see a jump in their final placing at the state meet after losing only one senior from last year’s seventh-place team.

KC will join 5A this season and will face a tough challenge in the move up in competition. The Lady Broncos finished 10th a year ago in 4A, but will boast one of the top runners in the state in sophomore LaKyla Yazzie.

Farmington will be looking to make the state meet as a team after not qualifying last fall.

This season, the Lady Scorps will boast one of the favorites for the 5A individual title in McKinzey Allee. Allee finished eighth overall as a freshman in 2015, and five of the seven girls who finished ahead of her at last year’s state meet have graduated.

Also looking for a return to the state meet will be Bloomfield, which did not send a team or qualify any individual runners for last year’s meet.

PV will be trying to stay competitive after moving from 5A to 6A this season and returning five of the seven runners the team sent to state last year.

Comparing PV’s times from last year’s state meet with last year’s 6A teams would have placed the Lady Panthers in the top eight. But PV still has to get out of District 1-6A in order to have a chance at a solid finish at state. The district sends its top three teams to the state meet, and last year’s representatives — Cleveland, Rio Rancho and Volcano Vista — placed first, second and third.

“I did the same thing at state. I looked at the results and said, ‘Oh, we were top eight,’” PV coach Sampson Sage said. “But then I looked again, and the three teams that district sent to state were one, two and three. If we make it out of district, we know we’ll be competitive at the state level. The issue is making it out of district.”

Aztec, Bloomfield and Farmington will start their seasons at the Aztec Invitational Thursday.

Prep will join Shiprock at the Rehoboth Christian meet on Friday, and PV and KC will get their season started on Saturday at the University of New Mexico Lobo Invitational in Albuquerque.

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.