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LABOR DAY CLASSIC: Centennial’s Hartle, Palo Verde’s Gorczyca cruise to easy wins

Centennial junior Nick Hartle and Palo Verde freshman Katie Gorczyca posted the fastest times of the day at the Palo Verde Labor Day Classic on Saturday.
Hartle took the junior/senior boys race in in 14 minutes, 40 seconds, while Gorczyca posted a mark of 17:18 in finishing first in the freshman/sophomore girls race.
Approximately 500 runners from 15 local high schools competed in four races — freshman/sophomore boys and girls and junior/senior boys and girls — on a 2.8-mile course at Palo Verde.
Andrea Gonzalez from Arbor View won the junior/senior girls race, and Coronado’s Alan Ekanger took the the freshman/sophomore boys race.
Gorczyca ran away from the field early in the first race of the day, taking the lead a half-mile into the race.
She continued to pull away, finishing more than two minutes ahead of runner-up and Green Valley freshman Lindy Eskin (19:24). Tech sophomore Taylor Coss was third in 19:32.
“I’m used to running by myself,” Gorczyca said. “I stayed with the pack for the first half mile, but I was still too fast for the first mile. I slowed down after that. I’m looking forward to races where I will have more competition.”
Palo Verde coach Robert Davis attributed Gorczyca’s wide margin of victory to her endurance.
“Katie can run fast forever,” Davis said. “She has an incredible endurance base. She is the hardest worker and has been a positive influence on the team.”
Hartle, who placed fifth at state as a sophomore in 2009 and is the top returning Class 4A runner in the South, led his race from the onset and was never seriously challenged, finishing 16 seconds ahead of the field.
Arbor View senior Greg Marschik was the nearest competitor, finishing in 14:56. Moapa Valley senior Josh Thompson, the defending Class 3A state champion, was third in 15:08.
In the junior/senior race, Arbor View’s Gonzalez posted the second-fastest time of the day among the girls, winning her race in 18:07.
Gonzalez, Coronado junior Erin Smith and Palo Verde senior Kelsi Koch ran together for most of the race until Gonzalez pulled away in the final mile.
Smith was second in 18:22, and Koch took third in 18:27.
“Andrea has a great cardio system,” Arbor View coach Tyrel Cooper said. “She is the most in-shape runner I have ever coached. She would run herself into the ground if I let her.”
The boys’ freshman/sophomore race belonged to Coronado as Cougar sophomores Ekanger (15:55), Mark Hickey (16:00) and Ryan Gehring (16:01) grabbed the first three places.
Coronado coach Mark Tondryk was pleased with both of his teams but added that the Cougars are young and could still have a tough time competing with Foothill, Basic and Green Valley, their main Sunrise rivals. 
Team scores were tallied by counting only the top three runners on each team in each race, as opposed to the conventional five scoring runners.
Centennial won the boys junior/senior race, with Coronado’s boys claiming the freshman/sophomore race.
The Cougars also took the girls junior/senior race. Green Valley won the girls freshman/sophomore race on a fourth-runner tiebreaker over Palo Verde.

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