Morenci posts improved times, but Thatcher runs away with bragging rights at Copper Hill Invitational

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci sophomore Kayla O’Connell finished first in the 3rd Copper Hill Invitational with a 24:00 clocking.

Morenci Sophomore Kayla O’Connell takes first-place individual honors

By Raymundo Frasquillo

MORENCI – Thatcher’s cross country girls won their third straight Copper Hill Invitational, scoring 30 points or 28 fewer than runner-up and host Morenci (58) on Oct. 3.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Thatcher sophomore Ashlyn McMaster placed second in Morenci with a time of 24:30.

The Eagles scored 21 points, runner-up San Carlos 43, and Morenci did not have five runners in 2017. Thatcher had 31 and second place Morenci 67 in 2016.

Morenci sophomore Kayla O’Connell broke Lily Richardson’s 2017 winning mark (24:34) with a clocking of 24:00, but New Mexico Bayard Cobre Class of 2017 grad Skylar Jones still holds the course record of 22:15.

Thatcher sophomore Ashlyn McMaster finished second (24:30) of 32 runners, Thatcher junior Hailey Udall third (25:02), and Safford senior Sabrina Gutierrez fourth (25:19).

The Eagles quintet also included freshman Madiline Hughes and junior Elliana Windsor, placing 10th (26:49) and 11th (27:05), respectively. Thatcher junior Paisley Layton and senior Akala Hatch were 12th (27:06) and 14th (27:39), respectively.

Morenci junior Desiree Babb came in at 26:36.90 for ninth, junior Miriam Frisch at 27:55 for 15th, senior Camrie McBride at 28:40 for 17th, and junior Yrliana Molina at 29:54 for 20th.

Tombstone sophomore Carmen Gonzales finished fifth (25:38), sophomore Jessika Howard eighth (26:36), junior Clair Smith 16th (28:17), junior Dayla Durrer 18th (28:50), and junior Cameron Young 24th (36:10).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Safford senior Sabrina Gutierrez was the first Bulldog to finish in Morenci, placing fourth with 25:19.

Safford had sophomore Samantha Van Houten at 13th (27:28), senior Breanna Melendez at 19th (29:49), freshman Chelsey Marble at 21st (31:13), and sophomore Taylor Gutierrez at 23rd (32:26). Senior Johnnie Melendez came in 26th (38:06).

Willcox senior Viradiana Gutierrez was 22nd (32:20) and junior Ashley Riggs 25th (36:46).

Fort Thomas senior Shanae Dosela placed sixth (25:41).

Desert Twilight Invitational

The Wildcats were 33rd (764 points) of 41 small school teams running in Casa Grande Sept. 28.

Individually, O’Connell clocked in with 21:46.45 for 57th of 349 finishers, Babb with 23.59.93 for 167th, Frisch with 25:15.35 for 239th, McBride with 26:11.31 for 271st, and Molina with 26:17.86 for 265th.

Safford finished 28th with 698 points. Sabrina Gutierrez came in at 106th (22:59.82), Van Houten at 120th (23:14.24), junior Emma Hackett at 133rd (23:24.52), Breanna Melendez at 251st (25:51.05), and Taylor Gutierrez at 307th (27:36.97). Johnnie Melendez came in 343rd (33:18.47).