FARMINGTON — Against a small field on its home course, the Shiprock girls cross-country team cruised to a District 1-4A championship on Saturday, and the Lady Chieftains did so without their top runner.
Destiny Rockwell missed her second straight meet, but that didn't stop the Lady Chieftains from gaining 25 points in Shiprock, 20 better than second-place Navajo Prep, which earned 45 points. Wingate had 71 points, while Thoreau fell to last with 93.
Khadija Lapahie stepped up in Rockwell's absence, completing the 5K race in 20 minutes and 26 seconds, good for first place. Lapahie, a sophomore, edged Prep standout freshman Shannus Becenti by 16 seconds.
Perhaps more impressive was the support Lapahie received from her teammates, according to Shiprock coach Alice Kinlichee. T'yana Harry was third in the race, and Nicole Howe was fourth, much to Kinlichee's delight.
"Praises to Nicole Howe. Boy, she ran an excellent race," Kinlichee said. "A whole minute faster than she ran in the Shiprock Invite."
Navajo Prep's boys came away victorious in the four-school race, thanks in large part to roster depth. The Eagles placed seven boys in the top nine, from slots third through ninth.
Prep coach Stephanie Zahne was proud of the win, but downplayed it to a degree as the state meet on Saturday looms.
"It was an outstanding race, and we can celebrate, but the one that matters and what we have been preparing for all season is (Saturday)," Zahne said. "The boys came prepared to compete and they did."
Prep's massive presence in the top 10 helped the team edge second-place Shiprock by 15 points.
Aaron Gould won the individual boys race, finishing nine seconds ahead of teammate Justin Yazzie.
"Those two pretty much owned the race," Shiprock coach Brian Paniagua said of Gould and Yazzie. "I can't say enough about Aaron Gould's leadership and hardcore running this season. He wanted that championship and defied anyone coming to take it from him."
Kirtland Central boys and girls win district championships in Gallup
It's been a truly dominant season for the Kirtland Central cross-country program.
Just like at last week's Kirtland Ridge Run, KC's Kashon Harrison and Michaela Hawkins won the boys and girls 5Ks, respectively.
Only this time, the Bronco boys weren't alone in earning first place overall, as both the boys and girls left Friday's District 1-5A meet in Gallup with district trophies.
"The boys are really starting to come together," KC coach Lenny Esson said. "(KC's) fourth through sixth (runners) looked pretty good. The key is going to be keeping our two through six less than a minute apart."
Aztec was 21 points behind KC and earned second place, paced by three top-10 finishers — Andrew Day (sixth), Dwight Barton (eighth) and Matthew Smith (ninth).
Tanin McDermott earned 11th place for Farmington, which took fifth out of six schools. Bloomfield was in last.
Hawkins, an eighth grader, had no problems taking first and was 19 seconds faster than Miyamura's Ashley Thomas. Two other KC eighth graders — Chynitta Yazzie (sixth) and Autumn Harrison (seventh) — were in the top 10, as was Lady Broncos sophomore LaKyla Yazzie, who nabbed eighth.
The Lady Tigers took third in 1-5A with 64 points. In fifth was Bloomfield with 145, while Farmington occupied last place with 157.
Aztec sophomore Hailey Chapman didn't race last week, but she was stellar on Friday in earning fifth overall.
Farmington was paced, as usual, by Kassidy Nez, who secured 14th.
Junior Katelin Kosea led Bloomfield by placing 22nd.
Piedra Vista boys, girls wind up in last at District 1-6A meet
For coach Sampson Sage, the bump up in class was no excuse for Piedra Vista's dual last-place finishes on Friday.
Instead, Sage second-guessed his own coaching tactics that may have led to his squads' fifth-place spots in the District 1-6A meet at Cleveland High School.
"I knew this race was going to be fast, so just after Labor Day I incorporated some speed work into our teams' training, and the kids reaped the benefits of that," Sage said. "But in doing that, I had to take a secondary workout away on Thursday. I probably should have made the move about a month sooner. Just that little bit of lost fitness and lost strength I think cost us this week."
PV's girls still ran one of their better races of the season, according to Sage, despite finishing 21 points behind fourth-place Cibola.
The boys have been hit with a string of bad luck lately, as four of their top six runners caught the flu last week, so they weren't at full strength on Friday.
Neither PV team qualified for the 6A state meet, but Paris Chee and Ben VanOtteson did make it as individuals. Chee was 12th overall in the girls race to pace the Lady Panthers, while VanOtteson came in 23rd as PV's top boy.
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.