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Centennial boys breeze to Las Vegas Invitational win

The state cross country meet still is two months away.

But Saturday’s Larry Burgess Las Vegas Invitational had a November feel to it, with only Southern Nevada teams running on one of the two state meet host courses.Centennial’s boys certainly are hoping the results of Saturday’s pseudo state meet can be repeated in two months.The Bulldogs had the top three runners in the large school boys race and ran away from the field to post a total of 23 points, 90 points better than second-place Arbor View. Shadow Ridge (133) was third, one point better than Coronado.“It was a good race for us,” said Centennial coach Mike McGuire. “Dajour (Braxton) ran well. All the kids ran well.”Braxton took the lead early in the race, running with teammates Jackson Carter and George Espino, and Tech’s Martin Ponce.Braxton and Carter took over near the midway point of the race and cruised home, with Braxton winning in 16 minutes, 40.7 seconds.

“Great for Centennial. I love it here. Great team,” said Braxton, who moved to Las Vegas from Louisiana last summer. “I want to go a little bit faster. This wasn’t my best race today.”

Carter stayed close, finishing second in 16:42.

“We’re working hard,” said Carter. “We were running tough today because one of our girls, Shelby Gibbons, is having knee surgery right now, this weekend. She’s being really brave right now. This was for her.”

Ponce, who was scored in the small school race placed third overall among boys varsity runners in 17:03.0. Espino was fourth overall and third among large school runners in 17:03.9.

Ponce’s effort helped Tech to the small school boys crown. The Roadrunners placed five runners in the top 10 and had 29 points. Clark was second with 42 points, followed by Boulder City with 49.

“It was a good race but I’ll be doing better,” said Ponce. “Right now I’m taking it easy. I’m trying to stay under the radar. I’m training different this year. I’m listening to my body more.”

In the girls race, Coronado’s Sara Dort chased down defending Division I state champion Katie Gorczyca of Centennial with 600 meters left and won in 19:46.4. Gorzcyca was second in 20:02, followed by Arbor View’s Zanae Jones in 20:15.4.

“I felt strong in the beginning and went out a little faster than usual,” said Dort, who has won the last three Sunrise Region titles. “I tried to stay with (Gorczyca) and caught her on the downhill. I wanted to break 20; it was PR on this course for me.”

Gorczyca was running her first race of the season after competing in a national triathlon less than a month ago. She also ran without teammate and Sunset Region champion Sydney Badger, who was on a recruiting trip.

“I’m not there yet but I’ll be ready for state,” Gorczyca said. “I missed not having Sydney in the race to pace me. We run well together.”

Jones led her Arbor View teammates to the large school team championship, as they outscored Coronado 51 to 64. Centennial was third with 74, followed by Green Valley with 76.

Buoyed by strong efforts from Bailey Gosse and Jeneke Heerema, The Meadows took the small school girls title with 31 points. Pahrump Valley was second with 67.

Gosse won the small school race in 20:53, the fifth-best time overall among girls varsity racers. Heerema finished second in 21:06.2.

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