October 30, 2014 - 8:29 pm
Dajour Braxton was awarded the No. 1 racing bib by meet director John Dixon before Thursday’s Division I Sunset Region meet at Sunset Park.
The Centennial senior justified the recognition and proved why he’s the top runner in Southern Nevada.
Braxton led the entire 3.1-mile race, finishing in 15 minutes, 44.3 seconds and winning his second consecutive Sunset Region meet.
“I think I pushed it more than my other races,” Braxton said. “It was really hot today, so I was fighting through that. My coaches told me to keep pushing and I did. I wanted to get into the 15:40s today, so a (personal record) is always good.”
Braxton blew out the field from the opening gun. His winning time was 35 seconds better than the Sunset’s second-place finisher and 58 seconds ahead of the top Sunrise runner.
“I guess the Nevada officials chose to give the No. 1 bib to the person they thought had the best performance this year,” Braxton said. “I’m honored (to wear it). This is the first time I’ve ever gotten this.”
Said Dixon: “I thought having the No. 1 bib would be a cool thing. It was sort of an award. He’s an outstanding athlete.”
Braxton, a top Division I prospect, achieved a personal record for 3.1 miles on Thursday, and credited his coach and support system for constantly pushing him.
“Everybody has been so supportive,” he said. “Everybody is cheering me on during the race, and it’s really great. It really motivates me.”
Palo Verde’s Noah Landers was second in 16:19.7, followed by Bishop Gorman’s Jacob Holland (16:52.2), Palo Verde’s Andrew Goldsmith (17:03.9) and Gorman’s Robert Daseler (17:04.6).
The Panthers placed seven runners in the top 20 to claim their first region title since 2006, snapping Centennial’s streak of seven consecutive wins.
“It’s been a long time coming,” third-year Panthers coach Nick Meis said. “They’ve been working so hard all three years. They did it. That was the tightest our pack has been all season…
“We are happy. We could’ve cared less if it was one point, two points, whatever. A win is a win for us. They’re happy and I’m ecstatic for them.”
Green Valley and Basic found themselves much closer than expected at the two-mile mark of the Sunrise race.
But no one was going to deny the Gators their first region title since 2011.
“At the two-mile mark, it was pretty close,” coach Blaine Thompson said. “We had our Nos. 1, 2 and 3, but then Basic had at least four kids between our three and four. At that point, it was really close. Our Nos. 4, 5 and 6 kids really gutted it out. They were outstanding. They all feel really great.”
Despite it being close after more than half of the race, Green Valley eventually pulled away to finish first with 44 points, topping Basic (67), Coronado (81), Silverado (122) and Las Vegas (125).
Junior Austin Rogers led the way for the Gators, leading the pack for more than two miles and finishing in 16:46.2, to win his first individual region title.
“There’s no kid that I’ve ever had to coach that I would have wanted it for more,” Thompson said. “He’s humble, he’s a student of the sport, and he came from a sport that’s completely separated from cross country and running. And he eats it up. I think he’ll go faster next week.”
Leonardo Rubi was second in 17:01.2, and teammate Robert Lovelady was fifth in 17:25.9 to give the Gators three runners in the top five. Valley’s Kidus Feleke placed third with a time of 17:05.5, and Las Vegas’ Miguel Ramirez was fourth in 17:18.
“It feels amazing (to get the team title), especially because last year we got upset,” Rogers said. “We’ve worked hard this whole year, and it finally paid off. This gives us a lot of confidence (going into state).”
DIVISION I-A SOUTHERN REGION
Faith Lutheran’s Chase Wood and Tech’s Garrett Meyer were bunched together for nearly the entire Southern Region race.
The Crusaders’ junior had just a little bit more in the tank, pulling away on the last 100-meter runway.
Wood won with a time of 16:26.1, edging Meyer by 3.1 seconds, en route to his first region title.
“We were neck and neck the entire time,” Wood said. “It just came down to the 100 (meters). A pure guts race. It was who would outkick who…
“It feels good. I think this is going to push me to train harder. It’s a lot harder to have someone in front of you. I’m used to running by myself.”
Meyer was second in 16:29.2, finishing ahead of Desert Pines’ Abdirahman Mohamed (16:52.5), Clark’s Yoseph Shiferaw (16:57.8) and Faith Lutheran’s Austin Hunt (17:04.1).
Faith Lutheran placed five runners in the top 16 to earn the team title with 47 points. Clark was second with 49, followed by Tech (107), Virgin Valley (185) and Boulder City (188).
DIVISION III SOUTHERN REGION
Cutty Zanghi and Ben Elharrar will not be able to win a team title in next week’s state meet.
The Adelson School runners will still get to compete individually after posting two of the top five region times.
Zanghi, a junior, finished first in 18:24.2, and Elharrar, a freshman, was fifth in 19:44.7.
West Wendover had the second- and third-place finishers in Joel Rodriguez (18:50.1) and Jorge Aguire (18:57.3) to win the team title with a score of 40.
The Meadows, behind fourth-place finisher Jimmy Hood (19:08.4), was second with 56 points, followed by Lincoln County (58), Adelson School (75) and Agassi Prep (126).