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Coronado’s Ekanger, Centennial’s Badger lead way at league championships

Alan Ekanger of Coronado and Centennial’s Sydney Badger turned in the fastest times of the day Saturday at Basic and led their teams to wins at the League Cross Country Championships.

A format of four races — Southwest and Northeast boys and girls; and Northwest, Southeast, and small school boys and girls — produced four Sunset winners, four Sunrise winners, and two small school winners.

Ekanger had to hold off a bid by Del Sol’s Nick Priego to win his race, finishing the 3.1-mile course in 16 minutes, 38 seconds. Priego had a time of 16:41.9.

“I felt great,” Ekanger said. “I think it was a (personal record) by 20 seconds. This year has been good for me, older, bigger, stronger. I’m working out way more than last year, running extra miles.”

Brian Marshall of Foothill took third in 16:59.8, with Green Valley’s Christian Fortner claiming fourth in 17:01.

Ekanger helped the Cougars to the Southeast team title. Coronado had 44 points, followed by Green Valley with 53, Foothill with 75 and Tech with 97.

Palo Verde, behind a second-place effort from Drew McInnis, won the Northwest portion of the race with a team score of 37. Shadow Ridge was second with 40. Top-ranked Centennial did not participate, instead electing to race in California this weekend.

Cimarron-Memorial’s Malik Jackson was the Northwest winner in 17:06.1, 16 seconds ahead of McInnis.

In the other boys race, Bishop Gorman’s Eric Klein led from the start as six of the leaders mistakenly got off course early in the race, though it likely didn’t affect the final outcome.

Klein finished in 17:10, four seconds ahead of teammate Josh Holland to lead Gorman to the team title with 40 points. Clark was second in the Southwest with 71.

“I felt good (about the race), but I took a wrong turn; we went the wrong way. It cost us maybe 30 seconds,” Holland said “I’m glad for Eric Klein. He did a really good job. He deserved it. Our team’s doing really well. We’re like a family.”

Valley’s Alex McMillan was the top Northeast finisher in the race, placing fourth overall in 17:21 to help the Vikings to a team crown with 44 points. Las Vegas was second with 75.

The girls Northwest/Southeast race was another showcase for Badger, who blitzed the course in 18:35.5. Badger never trailed and steadily pulled away from the field. Palo Verde’s Marissa Suan was second in 19:15, followed by Boulder City’s Jessica Tobler in 19:26.

“I didn’t expect the course to be as hard as it was,” Badger said. “But I try to give it my all every single time. Except for the second mile, I was happy with my race. I wanted to kick it harder the second mile. That’s what we’re going to be working on.”

The first Southeast finisher was Basic’s Jessica Raymond, who was sixth overall in 20:02.

Centennial pulled off a mild upset, winning over favored Arbor View with 35 points. The Aggies were second with 49.

Coronado won the Southeast team title with 45 points. Green Valley took second with 55.

“No surprises,” Coronado coach Mark Tondryk said. “We ran good, but we can run better. Our girls varsity is still missing our number two (runner) Kristen Morrill. That hurt us. We didn’t have any room for error. But we got it done.” 

Sunrise Mountain’s Ebonique Diaz won the Southwest/Northeast race in 20:00.1. Gorman’s Taylor Stueve was second overall and was the top Southwest finisher in 20:12.9.

Clark took the Southwest team title with 48 points to Bonanza’s 60.

Las Vegas won the Northeast team crown with 47 points. Rancho was second with 80.

Small school team winners were Boulder City’s boys and Laughlin’s girls.

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