The divisional cross country races mean something a little bit different for each runner and team.
For Arbor View senior Keith Williams, the Southern Nevada Division Finals at Basic High School on Saturday meant emerging from a pack to claim first place in the Northwest League.
For others, the races were a matter of preparing for next week’s regional meet.
The most competitive race in the varsity ranks was the boys race involving schools from the Class 4A Northwest and Northeast Leagues, the 3A Sunset League and the 2A Southern League. Williams led at the front of a pack of five runners early. Eventually, he managed to hold off Pahrump Valley’s Bryce Odegard and Centennial’s Alexander Miller in the final quarter mile, putting in a good finishing kick to cross the line in 16 minutes and 13 seconds.
“I just stayed the same the whole race,” Williams said. “Everyone says I have a good kick at the end, so I tried to use it. It was a very good race for me. I finished 11th in this race a year ago, so to go from 11th to first is really something.”
Odegard was second in the race at 16:17, but was first among 3A Sunset runners, and Pahrump was the top team as well. Miller finished third in 16:20, but Centennial had six runners in the top nine to score 28 points, edging Arbor Valley (31) in the Northwest standings.
Donavon Jones of Valley was the top 4A Northeast finisher in 17:31. Valley also won in the division team standings with 29 points. Shay Rutledge was the top 2A finisher in 17:12, and his team Lake Mead took first in the team standings.
Conner Nicholas, a junior at Desert Oasis, won the other main boys varsity race, which featured the 4A Southeast and Southwest Leagues along with the 3A Sunrise. Nicholas won in 16:13.
The race started with Clark’s Liam Jones moving to the front, but Coronado’s Tom Dougherty took the lead after the first mile. Nicholas shadowed both early on before taking the lead for good around the midway point of the 3.1-mile course.
“I was just going along with whoever was in front,” Nicholas said. “Once we went past the track the first time, I decided to push the pace.”
Desert Oasis placed four of the top six in the 4A Southwest League to easily outdistance Clark 27-49 for first place. Coronado topped the Southeast team standings while Moapa Valley took first for 3A Sunrise squads.
Liberty’s Ryan Gilbert eventually came on to finish in 16:40, placing second for the race but first among Southeast boys. Dougherty followed in 16:50, and Liam Jones was second among Southwest runners in 16:52. Bruce Troncoso of Tech was the top 3A Sunrise individual finisher in 17:14.
The first girls varsity race involving Southwest, Southeast, and Sunrise schools came down to Basic’s Raquel Chavez and Sierra Vista’s Sarriah Brown. The latter won last week’s Lake Mead Invitational, but Chavez bounced back after a pair of disappointing races with a better performance on her home course. She stayed back in the first mile, then surged forward in the second mile and never relinquished the lead. She won in 18:56, claiming first among Southeast runners, while Brown followed in 19:07, the top result for the Southwest.
“I needed this for an esteem boost,” Chavez. “I was starting to feel like I couldn’t win anymore. Usually, I like to be in front but people were saying I was going out too fast. I had to pull it back a bit and be smarter in the beginning, then make my move.”
Viviana Archuleta-Vega of Virgin Valley had the top 3A Sunrise girls time in 21:25. Coronado scored 30 points to win the team title among Southeast schools followed by Basic (47) and Foothill (49). Clark was the top team in the Southwest and Tech in 3A Sunrise.
The final varsity girls race saw the Southern Nevada powerhouse Centennial bring its top seven to the field for the first time all season. Alexis Gourrier jumped to the front again and cruised to the Northwest League win in 18:53.
“It was a rough race for me,” Gourrier said. “My legs didn’t feel like they usually do. I could have pushed harder, but I didn’t want to risk anything before regionals. It was still good for me to run and get myself ready for next week.”
Desert Pines’ Jazmin Felix was second in the race in 19:08, earning the top result for 3A Sunset runners. Isabella Davis was the top finisher for Northeast runners (20:36), and Maranda McGuigan of Somerset-Losee (21:50) posted the best time in 2A.
Centennial had its seven runners finish in the top 10 in the Northwest standings, easily winning the team title. Valley topped the Northeast schools, Desert Pines scored 30 points to Pahrump Valley’s 36 for the Sunset win, and Coral Academy won for 2A.