Morenci hosts 2023 cross-country meet on Wednesday

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: A total of 69 runners entered the first turn of the 5K Discovery Park course. The participants represented 14 schools in the Oct. 11 event. Thatcher placed sixth of 23 teams as 154 participants from 27 schools ran in the Tucson Salpointe Catholic meet on Oct. 14. Safford was 14th, Benson 16th, and Tombstone 20th. Morenci will be hosting its 8th Copper Hill Invitational at the Greenlee Golf Course on Wednesday, Oct. 18.

Queen Creek boys finish first in Thatcher meet

By Raymundo Frasquillo

GREENLEE – Eight schools will be represented in the 8th Morenci Copper Hill Invitational, the fourth at the Greenlee Golf Course, on Wednesday, Oct. 18.

The course is described as fast, not perfectly flat but has less hills or hard elevation than the state meet site in Cave Creek. The course winds through a golf course with a surface mix of grass, dirt, and cinder, and about 20 meters of asphalt.

Joining the Wildcats for the 5,000-meter run are 6-time meet winner Thatcher, along with Benson, Fort Thomas, Saint David, San Carlos, Tombstone, and Willcox. The starting time for varsity girls is 2 p.m., varsity boys 2:30 p.m., and an open run at 3 p.m. Awards are slated for 3:45 p.m.

The Chris Cook-coached Thatcher Eagles tied with San Tan Valley Poston Butte in 2022 (Oct. 27), both having 47 points. The tie-breaker was the sixth man’s finish. Thatcher sophomore Wallace Haller clocked in with 19:08.67 compared to 20:00.12 for Poston Butte senior Noah Watkins.

Benson finished third with 62 points, Safford fourth (90), and Tombstone fifth (109).

The top three individual placers of 43 participants were Poston Butte sophomore Gabriel Escanuela (17:31.94), Benson senior Joseph Akers (17:39.02), and Thatcher junior Gene Huish (17:40.54).

Thatcher scored 32 points in 2021 (Oct.27), second place Benson 46, third place Safford 48, and fourth place San Carlos 109.

Individually, Thatcher senior Joby Rojas crossed the finish line in 16:38.00, Thatcher senior Dean Haller in 16:42.00, and Safford junior Jack Hackett in 17:07.00. The runners totaled 35.

Thatcher’s best effort on the current course was during the 2020 (Oct.28) event, coming in first with 25 points or 37 fewer than runner-up Safford (62). Benson was third with 81 points, Bisbee fourth (82), Morenci fifth (114), and Tombstone sixth (144).

Individually, Thatcher junior Joby Rojas was first (18:22.00) of 48, Safford sophomore Jack Hackett second (18:38.00), and Derek Berringer-Smith third (18:41.00).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: The Queen Creek Bulldogs finished first of nine teams competing in the Thatcher Invitational on Oct. 11. Team members include, from left, senior Uriel Saucedo-Lopez, sophomore Brody Rogers, senior Quinton Meyers, senior Zachary Ripperdan, freshman Nathan Morenco-Guardado, and junior Tyler Larson. The Bulldogs scored 33 points or seven fewer than runner-up Thatcher (40).

A computer glitch prevented the 2019 official results from being saved for posterity reported then Morenci head coach Kenneth Lester.

Thatcher finished first in 2018 (Oct. 3) with 27 points, followed by Safford (50), Morenci (64), Tombstone (82), and Willcox (150).

Individually, Thatcher senior Hunter Stailey topped a field of 32 with a 17:48.00 posting, followed by Safford junior Duncan Walker (18:30.00), and Safford junior Jacob Urea (18:55.00).

The Ken Lester-coached Wildcats captured the 2nd Morenci Copper Hill Invitational title (Oct. 4, 2017) with 36 points, 24 less than runner-up Thatcher (60), and 32 less than third-place San Carlos (68). Tombstone was fourth (89), Cobre fifth (97), and Willcox sixth (172).

Tombstone senior David Perry covered the 5K course in 20:17 as he outdistanced a field of 38. San Carlos senior Anthony Hopkins Jr. was second (20:28), and Morenci sophomore Cameron Bailey-Garcia was third (20:41).

Morenci’s in-town inaugural Copper Hill Invitational (Oct. 5, 2016) was won by Thatcher with 24 points. New Mexico Bayard Cobre was second (89), New Mexico Silver third (90), Morenci fourth (91), San Carlos fifth (94), and Tombstone sixth (125). Willcox had only three runners and Fort Thomas two. Class of 2017 Eagle Carson Palmer’s set the winning run of 18:42.

Three boys posted personal-best clocking and five had season-best efforts after completing the run. A total of eight schools were represented as 42 boys completed the 5K course.

One of the visiting coaches said “It was a beast of a course,” and a participant added, “The hill coming back was a killer.”

Thatcher Cross Country Invitational

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Queen Creek senior Zachary Ripperdan, left, placed first (17:20.17), Safford senior Kody Gluyas, middle, placed second (18:12.32), and Thatcher senior Max Barron, right, placed third (18:31.61). Each of the three bettered 2022 meet times as Ripperdan posted 17:56.95, Gluyas (19:11.35), and Barron (18:35.16).

Division I – Southwest Section Queen Creek topped eight other teams with a score of 33, or seven fewer than runner-up Division III – Southern Section Thatcher (40) in Discovery Park on Oct. 11.

Division IV – South Section Benson was third with 93 points, New Mexico Silver fourth (107), Division III – Southern Section Safford fifth (141),  Division IV – South Tombstone sixth (154), Division IV – South Willcox seventh (169), Division IV – East San Carlos eighth (202), and Division III – South Globe ninth (250).

Four other schools also had participants competing but with fewer than five members, including Fort Thomas (4), New Mexico Bayard Cobre (4), Saint David (3), and Morenci (1).

Individually, Queen Creek senior Zachary Ripperdan was first of 67 runners with a time of 17, minutes, 20.17 seconds; Safford senior Kody Gluyas second with 18:12.32, and Thatcher senior Max Barron third with 18:31.61. They each posted quicker times from a year ago. Ripperdan clocked in at 17:56.96, Gluyas at 19:11.35, and Barron at 18:35.16 during the 2022 meet.

1st (33 points) – Queen Creek Bulldogs (7)

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Queen Creek senior Zachary Ripperdan

Senior Zachary Ripperdan was first (17:20.17) and earned one point, freshman Nathan Moreno-Guardado fifth (18:53.37) for five points, senior Quintin Myers seventh (19:00.00) for seven points, junior Tyler Larson 10th (19:14.38) for nine points, and senior Uriel Saucedo-Lopez 12th (19:17.47) for 11 points.

The sixth and seventh Bulldogs were sophomore Brody Rogers at 19th (20:07.52) and junior Dayson Marrow at 34th (22:18.80), respectively.

2nd (40) – Thatcher Eagles (7)

Senior Max Barron was third (18:31.61) for three points, senior Gene Huish fourth (18:47.04) for four points, senior Laethan Nelson ninth (19:08.66) for eight points, sophomore Gavin Reed 13th 19:17.99) for 12 points, and junior Callum Winkler 14th (19:17.47) for 13 points.

The sixth and seventh Eagles were junior Wallace Haller at 17th (19:51.21) and junior Cade Winkler at 18th (20:00.81), respectively.

3rd (93) – Benson Bobcats (6)

Freshman Jace Myatt was 11th (19:14.76) for 10 points, senior Ezekiel Crowley 15th (19:38.22) for 14 points, senior Aaric Myatt 24th (20:41.99) for 22 points, freshman Solomon Crowley 26th (21:05.44) for 23 points, and sophomore Syric Ramirez 27th (21:09.71) for 24 points.

The sixth Bobcat was sophomore Logan Vance 31st (21:57.48).

4th (107) – Silver Fighting Colts (6)

Sophomore Brock Anderson was sixth (18:59.84) for six points, senior Joe Diaz 21st (20:16.08) for 19 points, freshman Zeke O’Loughlin 22nd (20:17.86) for 20 points, sophomore Julian Sanchez 30th (21:34.05) for 27 points, and junior Cayden Chariez 40th (22:57.42) for 35 points. 

The sixth Fighting Colt was freshman Alex Ratliff at 49th (24:00.16).

5th (141) – Safford Bulldogs (6)

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Anthony Heathman, right, was surpassed by Brock Anderson as they neared the finish line. The Morenci senior turned in a better time (19:04.27) than in 2022 (20:28.78) as the Silver sophomore placed fifth in 18:59.44. Heathman finished ninth of 69 runners.

Senior Kody Gluyas was second (18:12.32) for two points, junior Andrew Ortega 16th (19:41.12) for 15 points,  freshman Drew McBride 47th (23:41.09) for 40 points, junior Tyrell Yazzie 52nd (24:46.48) for 43 points, and sophomore Nate Tutor 63rd (26:30.93) for 52 points.

The sixth Bulldog was freshman Michael Cuevas 64th (27:05.03).

6th (154) – Tombstone Yellow Jackets (6)

Junior Landen Pease was 23rd (20:34.46) for 21 points, senior Anthony Piro 32nd (22:00.69) for 29 points, freshman Jason Whipple 35th (22:21.76) for 31 points, senior Valen Morales 41st (23:00.08) for 36 points, and junior Ethan Bercot 56th (25:31.64) for 47 points.

The sixth Yellow Jacket was freshman Colten Thursby in 60th (26:14.01).

7th (169) – Willcox Cowboys (6)

Sophomore Sawyer Thompson was 28th (21:14.91) for 25 points, sophomore Johnathan Rodarte 29th (21:17.88) for 26 points, senior Lane Whetten 37th (22:25.34) for 32 points, freshman JD Whetten 43rd (23:04.48) for 38 points, and freshman Mark Wilson 57th (25:18.51) for 48 points.

The sixth member was junior Kyle McClaine 69th (29:12.67).

8th (202) – San Carlos Braves (6)

Junior David Dudd III was 38th (22:28.78) for 33 points, junior Demyen Andrews 39th (22:40.37) for 34 points, freshman Christian Chapman 46th (23:30.35) for 39 points, freshman Chris Crunch 54th (25:11.45) for 45 points, and junior Struvee Kitcheyan 61st (26:25.06) for 51 points.

The sixth Cowboy was sophomore Joshua Phillips 65th (27:56.84).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Thatcher senior Max Barron

9th (250) – Globe Tigers (5)

Freshman Michael Hogan was 53rd (24:48.09) for 44 points, sophomore Orion Beason 55th (25:30.32) for 46 points, sophomore Samuel Hogan 59th (26:12.69) for 49 points, sophomore Easton Phillips 66th (28:27.58) for 55 points, and sophomore Barbarino Gilbert 68th (29:55.71) for 56 points.

Morenci Wildcats (1)

Senior Anthony Heathman placed eighth (19:04.27).

Saint David Tigers (3)

Junior Corban Fry was 20th (20:08.22), freshman Zak Barten 58th (26:11.31), and freshman Ezra Fry 67th (28:56.68).

Fort Thomas Apaches (4)

Senior Darius Miles was 25th (20:46.11), sophomore Aiden Victor 36th (22:25.28), sophomore Kobe Hunter 45th (23:28.51), and senior Kyle Secody 51st (24:44.46).

Cobre Indians (4)

Freshman Santiago Peru-Subia was 33rd (22:10.54), freshman Azael Escobar 44th (21:56.00), sophomore Cayden Flores 50th (24:37.32), and sophomore Donald Wofford 62nd (26:28.68).