KC boys nab third at Canyon de Chelly Invite

Shiprock's Khadija Lapahie and Destiny Rockwell helped push their team into the top three at the Everybody Invite in Santa Fe

Jake Newby, jnewby@daily-times.com
Cross-country
  • Kirtland Central's boys took third place out of 12 schools in Chinle, Ariz., while KC's girls earned eighth out of 10.
  • The Lady Chieftains followed up last week's first-place finish by claiming third out of 24 schools in Santa Fe.
  • Led by Aaron Gould's fourth-place time, Shiprock's boys took fifth out of 16.

FARMINGTON — Kashon Harrison was once again the best runner in his race on Saturday, and his first-place finish helped the Kirtland Central boys cross-country team take third at the Canyon de Chelly Invitational in Chinle, Ariz. 

Harrison, a sophomore, dashed past the finish line just two seconds sooner than Santiago Hardy, a former Arizona 3A state champion out of Chinle High School. Harrison was also first at last week's UNM Lobo Invite in Albuquerque.

Broncos cross-country coach Lenny Esson said Hardy and Harrison were neck-and-neck throughout. 

"It was a good race for Kashon. Last week, nobody really went with him," Esson said. "This week, we played a different strategy. (Harrison) played a cat-and-mouse game and kind of took over the last quarter mile or so."

Harrison helped KC finish only four points out of second, behind Chinle, and 11 back of Flagstaff, Ariz., which won the boys portion of the meet. Twelve schools competed in the Canyon de Chelly Invite. 

Koby Blackwater (12th) and Jacob Hawkins (14th) also represented the Broncos in the top 15.  

KC's girls took eighth out of 10 qualifying schools. The Lady Broncos were paced by sophomore LaKyla Yazzie, who has been getting back into shape after suffering hip and knee injuries during the track and field season. 

Yazzie was the the team's top girl with a time of 22 minutes and 36 seconds, good for 11th overall. 

Esson said he thinks depth will be an issue for the girls team until they're allowed to add a few talented junior varsity runners to the team in the first week of October, which is when the middle school season ends. 

For both KC's boys and the girls, it was advantageous to get an up-close look at out-of-state competition, Esson said.

"It's good to see non-district, non-New Mexico teams — I think we were the only New Mexico team there," he said. "So it's good to see competition from our neighboring states as we prepare for district. There's some very respectable teams that finished behind (KC's boys), like Tuba City and Monument Valley."

KC will run in Shiprock's annual Shiprock Invitational on Saturday. That meet starts at 9 a.m. 

Shiprock girls and boys earn top-five placements in Santa Fe

The Lady Chieftains trounced the competition at last week's Rehoboth Invitiational, but Saturday's Academy for Technology and the Classics Everybody Invitational in Santa Fe was a much stiffer test.

Still, coach Alice Kinlichee's team managed a third-place finish out of 24 competing schools. 

Shiprock's Khadija Lapahie earned third among individuals while Destiny Rockwell took fifth. Lapahie and Rockwell were also the top two Lady Chieftain runners in last week's meet.

"Khadija is strong willed and our most experienced runner," Kinlichee said. "She will continue to be our top performer as she gets physically stronger. Destiny is very determined, and her work ethic is outstanding. She is a perfect example of hard work beating talent."

Shiprock's boys also had a nice day in Santa Fe, earning fifth out of 16 teams. 

Chieftains coach Brian Paniagua said he liked how Shiprock fared against the other Class 4A competition in the Everybody Invite. 

"We did really well today. We mixed it up with other 4A teams really well," Paniagua said. "East Mountain got fourth and St. Mike's was sixth. They have really strong teams, and our guys competed with them." 

Aaron Gould came in fourth with a time of 16:28 in the 5K. 

As Shiprock gets ready for next week's home meet, Paniagua said his team will look at the meet in Santa Fe as a good stepping stone. 

"This race gives me a bit more confidence going forward, yet it is a reminder we have a lot of work left to do," he said.

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