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LAS VEGAS INVITATIONAL: Braxton, Carter vault Centennial boys to team title

Centennial boys cross country coach Mike McGuire knows his team can run better than it showed Saturday.

The end result, though, needed no improvement.

Buoyed by top-six finishes from sophomore Dajour Braxton and junior Jackson Carter, the Bulldogs captured the large school team title in the Larry Burgess-Las Vegas Invitational at Veterans Memorial Park.

“A couple of our kids had good races,” McGuire said. “Not their best day, but when you can win and you’re not having your best days, that’s a good thing for
a coach.”

It wasn’t the only good thing for Centennial on Saturday. Sydney Badger and Katie Gorczyca took the top two spots in the girls large school race.

The Bulldog boys placed their five scoring runners in the top 30 and posted a score of 68. Page (Ariz.) was second with 88, followed by Rancho Buena Vista (Calif.) at 107 and Shadow Ridge at 111.

Kevin Ramirez, the lone runner in the event for Santa Fe (Calif.), dominated and won the 3.1-mile race in 16 minutes, 30.3 seconds. Page’s Jeffrey Miller took second in 17:04.8, holding off Shadow Ridge’s David Peters, who was third in 17:09.6.

Braxton took fourth in 17:10.5 with Carter two places and seven seconds behind.

“Dajour Braxton showed what he can do,” McGuire said. “He’s on fire and he doesn’t even know how to run cross country yet. We’re still teaching him the ropes. He’ll get even better.”

Bishop Gorman’s Eric Klein (seventh in 17:19.7), Shadow Ridge’s Nicholas Oberdin (ninth in 17:25.2) and Eldorado’s Eddie Esquivel (10th in 17:25.6) also cracked the top 10.

Badger broke away from an early logjam to breeze to the girls individual title in 19:21.8. Gorczyca was second in 20:07.6, with Rancho Buena Vista’s Bryn Rohner taking third in 20:33.5.

Badger, Gorcyca and Desert Oasis’ Brooke Locey were bunched with a bevy of out-of-state runners through the first 600 meters.

But on the first outside, downhill loop of the course, Badger broke away and took her teammate with her. From there, it was no contest.

“It was really exciting for the first real meet today,” said Badger, whose team skipped the Labor Day Classic at Palo Verde. ”The whole team pulled together how we wanted. I wanted to pace myself more, and it definitely worked. Having Katie up there helps me personally, and it helps the team as a whole.”

It wasn’t enough, though, to carry the Bulldogs to the team title.

Rancho Buena Vista had five runners in the top 18 and scored 51 points. Page was second with 80, followed by Centennial with 95 and Coronado with 124.

“I’m happy with my first four,” said Centennial girls coach Roy Session, whose fifth runner finished 66th (out of 120 scoring runners). “We knew going in my five was my weakness, my five-six-seven.

We’ve got work to do, but we’ve got two months. We’ll be there when it’s time.”

Locey finished fifth in 21:05.3.

The small-school teams ran with their large-school counterparts, but the meets were scored separately.

Clark’s Mucuranyana Amon won the boys small school race in 17:24.7. Tech’s Zach Zimdars took second in 17:45.1 and helped the Roadrunners to the team title.

Tech had 48 points, nine better than second-place Hurricane (Utah). Clark was third with 70.

Hurricane swept the small-school girls honors with Kamryn Watts easily winning the individual title in 20:35.1. Boulder City’s Jessica Tobler was second in 21:56.5.

Hurricane scored 39 points to Pahrump Valley’s 90 to win the team crown. Desert Pines took third with 98.

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