Weather no hurdle for St. Michael runner

Special to the Times | Adron Gardner
St. Michael Indian School Cardinal Ali Upshaw pushes through heavy rain to the finish line in the varsity girls’ 5K race during the University of New Mexico Lobo Invitational cross-country meet at the UNM North Golf Course in Albuquerque Sept. 1. Upshaw won the girls’ race with a time of 19:13.50.


Nothing was going to stop Ali Upshaw from winning her first University of New Mexico cross-country race, not even a downpour.

The St. Michael (Arizona) junior finished first among nearly 200 runners in various classifications in a time of 19:13.5.

Upshaw said after finishing fifth in the race last season and after a good off-season, she was ready to finish first.

“It was pretty wet and slippery, but I always tell myself that I ran harder races than this, there’s a lot more tougher things in life,” she said. “There’s a lot of big schools here and we’re only a 1A, so it’s good to get some recognition.”

Upshaw got off to a strong start and led throughout the race, but didn’t pull away until the final mile.

She said though she put in the work over the summer, she surprised herself, especially since she was still working on making some changes to her race.

“I’m kind of starting to get more in race shape or race mode,” she said. “So it was kind of an adjustment at the beginning of the season.”

While she accomplished a goal set early in the season, Upshaw said she finished far from where she wanted to.

She said she noticed some things were off about her race, and more adjustments needed to be made for her future races.

“I’m really excited, but I’m kind of disappointed in my time, but it was pretty wet out there,” Upshaw said. “My pace was kind of up and down. … I just kept my focus and tried not to get distracted.”

St. Michael head coach Kelly Bia said she was not at all surprised by Upshaw’s performance —or her self criticism.

Bia said Upshaw put in a lot of work over the summer in hopes of improving from the last season.

“She put in a solid summer. She’s very dedicated to her training, so she really doesn’t take too much time off,” she said. “She’s getting stronger, hopefully as the years go on.”

Bia said Upshaw is a key element to the team and they had hoped to work together to finish well as a team, especially when it came to the second through fifth runners.

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Categories: Track & Field

About Author

Sunnie R. Clahchischiligi

Sunnie Clahchischiligi has been the sports writer for the Navajo Times since 2008. She has a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from the University of New Mexico. Before joining the Times, she worked at the St. Cloud Times (Minn.), the Albuquerque Journal, the Santa Fe New Mexican, Sports Illustrated Magazine in New York City and the Salt Lake Tribune. She can be reached at or via cell at (505) 686-0769.