Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Thatcher senior Hunter Stailey and Safford junior Jacob Urrea were the first two out the gate at the start. Stailey finished first, and Urrea was third behind teammate Duncan Walker in Morenci on Oct. 3.
By Raymundo Frasquillo
MORENCI – Thatcher senior Hunter Stailey wanted to put his best foot forward, it being his final run in Morenci, for the 3rd Copper Hill Cross Country Invitational on Oct. 3. His previous run as a sophomore had him finish behind schoolmate and meet record setter Carson Palmer (18:42) with 18:50.
Stailey left his mark in Morenci, lowering the course record to 17:48.00. It was neither his personal best (16:33.00) nor season best (17:36.20), but he finished ahead of 31 other runners from five schools.
Safford juniors Duncan Walker and Jacob Urrea finished second (18:30) and third (18:55), respectively, and Morenci junior Jordan Mares fourth (19:06). Personal bests are 17:35.40 for Walker, 17:06.40 for Urrea, and 17:24.00 for Mares.
The course was altered to include a dirt path and a 33-step staircase on the return trip, enough to change the pace for all runners.
Meet host and ninth-year Morenci boys head coach Kenneth Lester said the course was measured more accurately than before. “It was closer to 5K.”
Thatcher ended with all five runners in the top eight, within 2:24 of each other, to finish first with 30 points. Safford was the runner-up with 50 points, followed by Morenci (64), Tombstone (82), and Willcox (150).
The Eagles’ quintet included junior Wesley Pena at 19:25 for fifth, freshman Joby Rojas at 19:56 for sixth, junior Talon Brown at 20:12 for seventh, and junior Tyler Bierman at 20:18 for eighth. Freshman Dean Haller clocked in at 20:56 for 15th and junior Matt Orr at 21:09 for 19th.
Safford’s other runners included junior Sy Hargis at 20:19 for ninth, senior McKade Finch at 20:47.09 for 12th, and sophomore Nathan Wells at 23:06 for 24th. Bulldogs’ sophomore Caiden Luna finished 26th (25:28.50).
For Morenci, junior Cameron Bailey-Garcia bettered his 2017 time of 20:41 with 20:40 for 11th, senior Matthew Silvester had 20:48 for 14th, senior Shawn Kartchner 21:06 for 17th, and junior Dante DeAnda 21:07 for 18th. Seniors Anthony Chanez and Gabriel Baca finished 21st (21:17) and 22nd (21:25), respectively.
Tombstone sophomore Chrystian Baird was 10th (20:25), sophomore James Bastian 13th (20:47.70), junior Michael Zelazny 16th (20:58), freshman Devon Mize 20th (21:10), and sophomore Quinton Palmer 23rd (22:25). Senior Oscar Alamilla-Quintero was 25th (23:34) and freshman Caleb Lucas 27th (25:28.80).
The Willcox quintet finished within 46 seconds of each other. The Cowboys included Sloan Williams at 28th (27:29), freshman Spencer Allred at 29th (27:44), Ryan McClaine at 30th (27:48), senior Adrian Miraflorez at 31st (27:57), and Johnny Collins at 32nd (28:15).
Thatcher won the inaugural meet in 2016 with 24 points and was second with 60 in 2017 when Morenci won with 36.
Desert Twilight Invitational
Morenci ended 13th of 61 small school teams, but four of the Wildcats set personal marks and two a season best at Casa Grande on Sept. 28.
Mares clocked in at 17:23.94 for 34th of 456 finishers; DeAnda at 18:16.91 for 110th; Kartchner at 18:28.57 for 127th; and Gabriel Baca at 18:46.51 for 161st. Silvester came in at 19:01.55 for 192nd.
Season-best times were turned in by Chanez at 19:38.40 for 198th and Bailey-Garcia at 19:11.08 for 213th.
In the open portion, seniors Ryan Williams, Mario Esquivel, and Christian Jones ended 98th (season best 20:47.17), 174th (personal best 22:30.83), and 325th (personal best 42:10.31) of 325 finishers, respectively.
Marcus Grijalva was 49th of 134 freshmen and Nicolas Patterson 71st with 22:38.20 and 23:59.53, respectively.
Safford ended third with Urrea 18th (17:08.00), Walker 47th (17:35.39), junior Grant Montierth 63rd (17:47.88), senior Dominic Gutierrez 85th (17:59.45), Hargis 134th (18:31.11), and Finch 155th (18:42.10).