Kirtland Central boys take 2nd at Gallup Invite

Shiprock, Piedra Vista fare well against stiff Desert Twilight competition

Jake Newby
  • Kashon Harrison recorded his personal best time of the season while winning his fifth consecutive race in Gallup.
  • Paris Chee broke the Piedra Vista High School girls cross-country record by finishing her race in 19 minutes and 26 seconds.
  • Navajo Prep's Mathis Quintana won the individual boys race at the Cuba Invitational.

FARMINGTON — One week after claiming first place in the Totah Invitiational, the Kirtland Central boys cross-country team was denied the top spot in Saturday's Gallup Invitational by only one point.


Zuni's boys won the meet with 42 points to KC's second-place total of 43. A Zuni runner passed KC's Koby Blackwater near the end of the race, which was crucial in the close team battle.

"One thing I tell my boys is they need to remember to fight for their position," Broncos coach Lenny Esson said. "If you don't, sometimes it can bite you in the butt."

Kashon Harrison continued his streak of taking first place in every race he's run in this year. He even one-upped himself on Saturday with a new personal record for the season when he won with a time of 15 minutes and 22 seconds. Blackwater and Jacob Hawkins helped KC's cause by earning sixth and seventh, respectively.

The Lady Broncos placed sixth out of 13 schools, and top runner LaKyla Yazzie took sixth as well. It was a tight pack near the finish line in the girls race, as Yazzie was only 27 seconds behind the winner.

Esson said the girls are starting to come along.

"Our second, third and fourth girls finished in under 23 minutes, which was great to see," Esson said. "We'll get some girls up from the junior varsity roster next week and that should only help."

Shiprock, Piedra Vista encouraged by Desert Twilight showings 

Against tough competition from all over the Southwest, the Shiprock and Piedra Vista coaches were pleased with what they saw during Friday's Desert Twilight XC Festival in Casa Grande, Ariz.

The Lady Chieftains earned seventh place out of 25 schools in the girls championship run at Desert Twilight, which features 11 races and includes competing schools from Arizona, Colorado, Texas and Nevada.

Shiprock was without three key varsity runners during the Totah Invite last week, but coach Alice Kinlichee got two of those girls — T'yana Harry and Danyel Johnson — back in the lineup for Friday's race.

Kinlichee called the race a "confidence builder" and said she was pleasantly surprised to crack the top 10 of a very competitive field.

"This was a big one for us," Kinlichee said. "To be a little shorthanded and still come out in seventh, I was surprised."

Shiprock continues to rely on its top three runners, which are Harry, Destiny Rockwell and Khadija Lapahie. All three made it into the top 25 individually, as Rockwell placed 14th, Lapahie earned 21st and Harry took 25th.

Rockwell (19:37) and Lapahie (19:59) both ran their fastest times of the season, while Harry equaled hers.

Both the Shiprock and Piedra Vista boys ran in the championship race, with PV slotting in at 11th place and Shiprock landing in 19th out of 28 schools.

That 11th-place finish was higher than the Panthers finished last year, and PV coach Sampson Sage thought last year's team was actually a bit stronger.

"This was the fastest pack time the boys have had," Sage said. "This was the first time — I want to say in two or three years — that we've had our entire scoring five under 18 minutes. This was probably the best possible outcome I could see for the boys."

As they do most weeks, Ben VanOtteson (18th) and Brayan Barajas (21st) led the way for PV.

Aaron Gould has been Shiprock's top placer all year and that didn't change Friday, as he earned 15th with a time of 16:20. The other Chieftain runners looked good this week as well, according to coach Brian Paniagua.

"The rest of the guys showed a lot of grit," Paniagua said. "We're still down a varsity runner, but the rest of the team stepped up and ran a lot tighter than they have all season long."

The Lady Panthers were in the sweepstakes division, where they placed 18th out of 22 schools. Paris Chee, who placed 55th, ran the fastest time in PV girls cross-country history, for any meet, when she crossed the finish line in 19:26.

Kendall Williams, who was 59th overall, finished in 19:35, which was the third-fastest time in PV girls history.

Navajo Prep boys finish in first place at Cuba Invitational 

Navajo Prep took advantage of a small Cuba Invite on Friday, as the Eagle boys took first out of five schools and the girls placed second out of three.

Mathis Quintana won the boys race, and Cameron Becenti took second. Prep coach Stephanie Zahne said she thought both of her teams enjoyed the small meet.

"For it being a small meet without many schools, it was a challenging course," Zahne said. "It was something different. I'd never taken a team there before. The scenery was nice, and it was a nice, fast meet."

Bloomfield's boys were fourth, and the Lady Bobcats were third.

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