Zuni teams take home district titles, prepare for state meet

By Quentin Jodie
Navajo Times

REHOBOTH, Nov. 7, 2013

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(Times photo – Donovan Quintero)

TOP: Eighth graders Cheyanne Carlisle of Rehoboth and Povi Becker of Ramah battle it out to the finish line on Friday at the Rehoboth cross country meet in Rehoboth, N.M. Both finished the course in a time of 23:06, but Carlise crossed the line first.

BOTTOM: Rehoboth Lynx runner John Kinsel sprints by Zuni Thunderbird Terrell Eustace on Friday in Rehoboth, N.M.



Confidence is a good thing to have.

The Zuni Thunderbirds seem to have plenty of it as they swept the team titles at the District 5-2A cross-country championships on Nov. 1, which was hosted by Rehoboth.

The girls finished the five-team invite with 32 points while the boys placed all of its scoring members in the top 5 for a perfect score of 15 points.

"That was our main goal for this week," Zuni frontrunner Alex Eustace said of the perfect score. "We wanted to show what we had and we proved that today."

Eustace completed the 3.1-mile course in 16:38 and finished ahead of teammates Tre' Riley (16:50), Jeron Chavez (17:30), Tyano Pinto (17:30) and Cody Latone (17:33).

Zuni coach Chris Carroll said winning the district championship was one of two goals they set heading into the final week of the prep cross-country season.

"I want to thank the Thunderbirds for reaching the first goal that we set for the next couple of weeks," Carroll said. "The kids are brothers and sisters and they are starting to understand that team wins championships.

"That is how we are right now," he added. "We're running as a team."

Heading into the New Mexico Class 2A state cross-country championships, Carroll said his girls are aiming to improve on their fourth finish from last season.

As for the boys, the long-time coach said they are hoping to collect its 15th state title on Saturday. The T-Birds are expected are strong challenge from defending state champs Laguna-Acoma, a team they beat four weeks ago during the Zuni Invitational.

"Laguna is probably our top competition as far as state goes," Carroll said. "But you can't overlook Pecos, you can't overlook Santa Fe Prep and you know the state meet is the state meet. People get unglued at state and times become unglued."

Because of those intangibles, Carroll said his team is going to focus only on one team -- the T-Birds.

"We can lose the meet if we beat ourselves," he said, "so we are going to focus on blue and gold."

Rehoboth and Navajo Pine also got its entire team qualified for state as the Lynx finished in second place with 64 points, which was seven points better than Navajo Pine.

Martin Skeet led the Lynx with an eighth-place finish as the Rehoboth senior was clocked in at 17:46. Junior Anthony Francis (18:24) finished two places back while junior Tristan Gibson (18:40) came in 13th place.

Rehoboth also got a 16th place effort from Jon Kinsel (19:06) and a 20th-place finish from Zane Charleston (19:51) to complete the team score.

"I thought our runners ran well," Rehoboth coach Jeff Engbers said. "I am excited about what we can do at state."

The Warriors had one runner in the top 10 with sophomore Terrence Lee coming in sixth with a time of 17:46. Junior Alvin Curley (18:34) was Navajo Pine's next best finisher as he placed 11th, ahead of Wyatt Davis (19:17) in 18th, Keenan Nez (19:24) in 19th, and Keon Nez (21:13) in 25th.

Tohatchi, which placed fourth overall in the team standings with 90 points, qualified two runners for state with senior Tristan Jones finishing seventh with a time of 17:41, ahead of Lane Begay (18:46), who came in 14th.

"I think this is pretty big," Tohatchi coach Chris Spurlin said. "Last year we didn't have any state qualifiers so this is a step in the right direction."

Individually, Ramah also got one state qualifier as eighth grader Lemeer Francisco placed 15th with a time of 18:49.

"He's an amazing kid and very athletic," Ramah coach Janice Lewis said. "It doesn't surprise me that he's going to state. We're excited about him going and I think he'll do fine."




Girls

After losing her first race of the season early last month, Navajo Pine's Annoesika Laughlin bounced back with a first-place finish at the district meet.

Laughlin led from start to finish and completed the race in 20:13, which was 53 seconds faster than second-place finisher Jordan Ide of Rehoboth.

"I was feeling great," Laughlin said. "I wasn't as tired as I was the last time I ran."

Incidentally, the last time she ran a race was four weeks ago during the Zuni Invitational and since then she's been nursing an injured knee.

In the team race, the Lady Lynx gave Zuni a run for their money as the Lady T-Birds edged the host team by eight points, winning 32 to 40.

"I told my girls that I thought it would be a six-point difference between first and second," Carroll said. "We weren't too far off from that. And if we had one mistake Rehoboth could have easily won today's meet."

With a time of 21:21, Kassie Homer led Zuni with a third-place finish. To complete the team score, the T-Birds snatched the No. 7 through No. 10 slot with Shanay Edaakie (22:10) finishing ahead of teammates Selena Sanchez (22:15), Tisha Zunie (22:29) and Robin Delena (22:37).

"That is confidence we need to carry into state to get to that podium," Carroll said.

Despite losing the district title, Engbers said his girls ran a solid race and he was proud of them.

"I wanted our girls to at least set themselves up to try and win it," Engbers said. "I thought we did but Zuni ran great and hat's off to them."

After Ide's second-place finish, the Lynx got a fifth-place effort turned in by Shannon Begay (21:46), a 11th-place finish from Drew Todechine (22:53), a 12th-place effort from Cheyanne Carlisle (23:06) and a 15th-place run from Tashonia Martin (23:27).

Ramah placed two runners -- eighth grader Kiana Chavez and freshman Alanee Esalio -- in the top 6 and finished third overall in the team standings with 48 points. Chavez (21:41) came in fourth, two spots in front of Esalio (21:47).

The Mustangs also had eighth grader Povi Becker (23:06) place 13th, ahead of freshmen Breanna Martine (23:24) 14th, and Cauy Duboise (24:00) 16th.

"The girls have worked hard all year and they are athletes," Lewis said. "I can't wait to see them in a couple more years. Hopefully we can do well at state. I think we have a very good chance of finishing near the top."

Individually, Tohatchi got two state qualifiers with eighth graders Roshawn White and Alessia Plummer finishing in the top three following the team qualifiers.

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