Coronado sets torrid pace in cross country

At some point, Coronado’s girls cross country team might have a down year.

At least that’s what the rest of the Sunrise Region is hoping.

Since 2006, the Cougars have made six straight trips to the state meet, including a runner-up finish in 2008, and won five consecutive region titles.

And they’re strong enough to make it six straight this season.

The Cougars bring back junior Sara Dort, last year’s region individual champion, along with five of her teammates: juniors Taylor Lauten, Logan Lucas and Emma Czerwinski and seniors Kristen Morrill and Katie Monaco.

"I’ve got two more years left. I plan to work really hard this year," Dort said. "Track season definitely helped me. I increased my stride and my turnover.

"As for me being a leader, I try to lead by example. Being a leader is pushing people further than they think they can go. I try to do that with myself."

Dort won region track titles last year in the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs. And she is off to a fast start this fall, undefeated in her first three races.

"Sara worked extremely hard over the summer and is ready to defend her region title," Coronado coach Mark Tondryk said. "Dort is really motivated. She and Alan Ekanger are the hardest working members of the team."

Coronado’s boys look to join the girls at state in November.

Coronado’s boys will be led by Ekanger, a senior, who finished sixth at state last year and was the top Sunrise finisher.

The Cougars boys failed to qualify for state as a team, with Tech edging them out by two points for the second spot. Green Valley won last year’s boys region title.

"I think Coronado is the prohibitive favorite in both boys and girls," Green Valley coach Blaine Thompson.

Coronado’s boys have not had the same success the girls have had over the past six years, but they were state runners-up in 2010. Three of this year’s runners – Ekanger, Mark Hickey and Alex Tarangul – were sophomores on that team.

"Alan is actually kind of shy," Tondryk said. "But he has stepped it up this year, being more aggressive and pushing the boys to follow his example. He never takes a day off or ever complains. It’s nice to see that dedication rewarded."

Ekanger said the Cougars have upped their training.

"Our coach had us do some new performance training," he said. "We put way more miles in on our speed workouts. We can tolerate more."

Coronado opened its season with a dual meet sweep against Sunrise rival Basic and then headed across town for the Labor Day Classic at Palo Verde, where the girls won the junior-senior race, with Dort running the fastest time of the day.

The Cougars boys finished runner-up to Centennial in the junior-senior race, led by Ekanger, who posted the day’s third-fastest time.

Coronado will face its toughest test of the young season Saturday, when the Cougars travel to the Larry Burgess Las Vegas Invitational in Boulder City.

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