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Gourrier, Centennial girls run away with Las Vegas Invitational

The Centennial girls cross country team is a dominant force.

And it doesn’t hurt that the Bulldogs have quite possibly the best female runner in the state in sophomore Alexis Gourrier.

Gourrier ran a blistering 17 minutes, 34.4 seconds over a 3.1-mile course to win the large school girls race in the Larry Burgess-Las Vegas Invitational on Saturday morning at Sunset Park. Gourrier completed the course 1:06 ahead of second-place finisher and teammate Karina Haymore who finished in 18:40.6. Mic Webster, of Cedar (Utah) placed third in 18:47.3.

Thanks to Gourrier and Haymore’s 1-2 finish, the Bulldogs won the team title with 28 points. Cedar was second with 78 points, and Green Valley finished third with 83 points.

“We had Sydney (Badger) and Katie (Gorczyca), and they set a foundation and that next group of girls who came up behind them aspired to be like them,” Centennial assistant coach Kisha Finch said. “They saw them get college scholarships, and they wanted that same goal. That tradition has continued through.

“That group really fostered a love of running, and now it’s spreading down to that freshman-sophomore group. They are really blossoming under it.”

Gorczyca (2012) and Badger (2013) each won an individual state championship at Centennial.

Gourrier, who finished fourth in the state meet last season, led Saturday’s race from the opening gun. She arrived at the 1.25-mile mark at 7:03, 42 seconds ahead of her teammate Haymore, and cruised to the victory.

Gourrier also won the freshman-sophomore race during the Labor Day Classic at Palo Verde last weekend. She finished the 3.1-mile course in 19:24.7. Her time was the best time of all the girls’ races last weekend.

“I’m off to a good start, but I have to keep practicing to get better,” Gourrier said. “My goal this year is to keep pushing myself from the front. It’s hard to run in the front by myself, but I tell myself that someone is right behind me, and I just keep pushing as if someone is on my shoulder the whole time.”

The fourth-place finish in state last year has really seemed to push Gourrier this season. After the spring track season was over, she competed in the New Balance Nationals.

“A lot of last year for her was mental,” Finch said. “It was her freshman year, her first state championship, and she was going in as the favorite. … She put a lot of pressure on herself. So, we went back to, ‘Why are you running?’ It should be fun out there. We told her to run for yourself, run to push, don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, but focus on what you are supposed to do and your specific race plan.

“Getting fourth was kind of that nip in the side for her. We were super happy with how she finished, but she wants to win. So, she really worked hard this summer, getting her mileage base, working on getting stronger, and that is now showing up in the races.”

As far as cutting down on her times, Gourrier wants to improve her endurance, saying she felt herself slowing down at the end of Saturday’s race.

“I need to work on my endurance a little bit,” she said. “I have the foot speed, but in the race, I started to weaken out. I just need to practice harder, and work on my strength.”

In the small school girls race, Kendall Larson of Faith Lutheran was first with a time of 19:50.5. Emily Seigle, also of Faith Lutheran, was second (20:53.2) and Ellen Hirsberg of The Meadows was third (20:58.9)

Faith Lutheran won the team event with 24 points. Tech was second with 47 points, and Clark was third with 82 points.

Green Valley’s Austin Rogers easily won the large school boys race in 15:23.4. Cedar’s Eric Lambert was second in 15:43.1, and Centennial’s Dominic Lambert took third in 15:53.2.

Rogers’ strong finish helped the Gators win the team title with 53 points. Cedar was second (64), and Basic was third (109).

Pahrump Valley’s Bryce Odegard won the small school boys race in 15:45.8, Jesse Barraclough of Hurricane (Utah) was second (16:26.4), and Clark’s Yoseph Shiferaw was third (16:29.3).

Clark won the team race with 43 points. Hurricane was second with 48, and Faith Lutheran was third with 98.

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