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Faith Lutheran boys, Clark girls coast in Sunrise Mountain Challenge

Faith Lutheran’s boys and Clark’s girls could really learn to like the Sunrise Mountain Cross Country Challenge.
The Crusaders boys and Chargers girls breezed to victory in the inaugural event Saturday.
Faith Lutheran placed four runners among the top seven boys, led by start-to-finish winner Anthony Ponticello, who ran the course listed at 2.8 miles in 15 minutes, 33 seconds.
Ponticello held off fast-finishing Collin Abbott from Eldorado, who ran 15:36. Valley’s Alec McMillan was third in 15:43.
Ponticello called it a “fast course,” saying he “felt good (running that fast) with no one next to me.”
The Faith Lutheran senior finished 21st at last year’s state meet and said he plans to reach state again. He led the Crusaders to a team score of 42. Valley was second with 55, followed by Eldorado with 61.
Clark dominated the girls race, placing all seven runners in the top 12 for a low score of 28. Las Vegas (70) nipped Faith Lutheran (71) for second.
Eldorado sophomore Gabriella Vazquez was back in the pack for the first mile, but moved up to second with a half-mile to go and overtook Clark’s Julianna Thornock prior to the stretch. Vazquez won in 18:50 and Thornock finished second at 19:09. Gorman’s Clare Finley finished third in 19:24.
“I felt good today,” Vazquez said. “Things are going way better than last year. Running track last spring helped with my speed. I feel more focused this year; I’m more dedicated to running.”
Eldorado coach Josh Wertheimer threw a bit of cold water on the fast times.
“I’m pretty sure the course was run short,” he said. “It looked to me like the runners cut out at least 200 meters (in the parking lot). Gabby’s best time for (3.1 miles) is around 22 minutes.”
Nevertheless, Wertheimer said he is pleased with Vazquez’s progress.
“She is a hard worker and listens well,” he said. “She is running way better this year, primarily because she is not playing (club) soccer this fall. She is more focused this year and doesn’t come to practice exhausted (from soccer practice).”
Clark coach Gina Reagh was ecstatic with the results. Only 1:41 separated the seven Chargers girls. After Thornock, Clark’s Dana Arce finish fourth, Kristin Hoag fifth, Amanda Shaffer eighth and Sachini Meegoda ninth.
“Jules (Julianna Thornock), Dana, and Kristin are one, two, and three,” Reagh said. “They flip flop after that. Hannah (Bennion) and Amanda are usually four and five. Today was a breakthrough race for Amanda. She finished strong.”
Thornock, the team captain as a junior, shrugged off her runner-up finish.
“We are really coming together as a team,” Thornock said. “That’s what this is all about. Our goal is to make it to state.”
Sunrise Mountain Challenge
At Sunrise Mountain (2.8 miles)
Boys Team Scores
Faith Lutheran 42, Valley 55, Eldorado 60, Las Vegas 71, Pahrump Valley 132, Clark 138
Top 10 Individuals
1, Anthony Ponticello, FL, 15:33; 2, Collin Abbott, Eld, 15:36; 3, Alec McMillan, Val, 15:43; 4, Alex Rios, FL, 16:12; 5, Lino Rubio, LV, 16:14; 6, Gavin Williams, FL, 16:25; 7, Al Sprouse, FL, 16:44; 8, Jacob Tonda, LV, 16:49; 9, Dilon Peterson, SM, 17:00; 10, Mason Tackett, Val, 17:05.
Girls Team Scores
Clark 28, Las Vegas 70, Faith Lutheran 71, Bishop Gorman 111, Eldorado 119, Valley 129
Top 10 Individuals
1, Gaby Vazquez, Eld, 18:50; 2, Julianna Thornock, Cla, 19:09; 3, Clare Finley, Gor, 19:24; 4, Dana Arce, Cla, 19:30; 5, Kristin Hoag, Cla, 19:38; 6, Leah Holleran, FL, 19:40; 7, Shelby Nelson, LV, 19:55; 8, Amanda Shaffer, Cla, 20:12; 9, Sachini Meegoda, Cla, 20:12; 10, Caitlyn Orne, FL, 20:17.

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