Thatcher cross country boys third, Morenci fifth, Safford sixth at sectionals; Eagles first, Safford second, Morenci fifth in Copper Hills Invitational

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Thatcher placed first in the six-team 5th Copper Hills Invitational on Oct. 28. Team members are, from left, Dean Haller, Derek Berringer-Smith, Bryce Larson (Open winner), Mason Bryce, Dathan Kartchner, Tanner Palmer, and Derrick Bierman. Joby Rojas was the individual winner. A week later, the Eagles finished third in the Division III – Southern Sectional at Rio Rico on Nov. 4. The state meet is Nov. 14.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

RIO RICO – Thatcher placed third in the cross country Division III – Southern Sectional with 80 points, behind champion Tucson Salpointe Catholic (22) and Sahuarita Walden Grove (71).

Safford was sixth (156), sandwiched between Tucson schools Empire (4th, 126), Tanque Verde (5th, 130) plus Sabino (7th, 165), and Mica Mountain (8th, 198).

Individually, Thatcher Class of 2022 members Joby Rojas was seventh (17:50.60), Derek Bierman 15th (18:57.10), Dean Haller 16th (19:17.60), Dathan Kartchner 25th (19:48.10), and Tanner Palmer 31st (20:18.40). The sixth and seventh members Mason Bryce and Derek Berringer-Smith were 36th (20:33.00) and 38th (29:35.90), respectively.

Personal bests are 17:07.20 (Oct. 23) for Smith, 17:14.10 (Oct. 23) for Rojas, 17:30.60 (2019) for Haller, 18:06.00 (2019) for Palmer, 18:11.00 (2019) for Kartchner, 18:18.60 (Oct. 23) for Bierman, and 18:59.80 (Oct. 23) for Bryce.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Thatcher junior Joby Rojas pulls away from the pack to finish first in Morenci. Safford sophomore Jack Hackett, below right, was second and Thatcher junior Derek Berringer-Smith third. Rojas ended seventh, Hackett 13th, and Smith 38th in the sectional a week later.

Safford sophomore Jack Hackett was 13th (18:48.50), sophomore Zach Montierith 33rd (20:24.10), junior Christopher Vertrees 34th (20:26.00), junior Timothy Fox 46th (21:21.70), and junior Bronson Hatch 59th (22:44.20). Sixth team member sophomore Julius Magby was 64th (33:53.00) and senior Caiden Luna 65th (23:57.70).

Personal bests are 17:10.50 (Oct. 24) for Hackett, 19:16.70 (Oct. 17) for Vertrees, 19:31.90 (2019) for Fox, 19:35.70 (Oct. 2) for Montierith, 19:54.30 (Oct. 2) for Hatch, 20:45.90 (2019) for Luna, and 23:05.80 (2019) for Magby.

Other teams in the section include Douglas, Rio Rico, and Sahuarita along with Tucson Amphitheater, Catalina, and Palo Verde Magnet.

Division IV – Southern Sectional

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci freshman Keaton Jasso, left, and senior Conrad Aguallo reach the “M” to turn onto Wildcat Drive during the first mile of the 5th Copper Hills Invitational. Jasso finished 13th and Aguallo 24th. Jasso ended 12th and Aguallo 24th in the sectional a week later.

Morenci placed fifth behind Tucson Pusch Ridge Christian (25), Tucson Saint Augustine Catholic (66), Benson (88), and Bisbee (104). Tombstone was sixth (128).

Individually, freshman Keaton Jasso paced the Wildcats with 20:52.20 for 12th. He was followed by senior Damien Billy (22:02.30) for 20th, senior Conrad Aguallo (22:22.60) for 24th, senior T.J. Lee (22:55.20) for 30th, and junior David Marquez Jr. (23:46.50) for 35th.

Personal bests are 19:25.40 (Oct. 24) for Jasso, 20:02.20 (Oct. 2) for Aguallo, 20:54.10 (Oct. 2) for Billy, 21:42.00 (Oct. 24) for Marquez, and 21:58.20 (Oct. 24) for Lee.

Other section teams include Fort Thomas, San Carlos, San Manuel, San Simon, and Tucson Santa Rita and Saint Augustine Catholic.

Fifth Morenci Copper Hills Invitational

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci senior T.J. Lee trailed junior David Marquez Jr. heading into the Lawson Stadium track but finished three-tenths of a second faster. Lee ended 1:51 ahead of Marquez at the sectional a week later.

Thatcher placed first with 25 points in the 5th Copper Hills Invitational on Oct. 28. It was the Eagles’ fifth straight top finish in Morenci. The course had its second alteration in three years with this one in a different direction and covering flatter terrain than the previous four.

Safford finished second (62), Benson third (81), Bisbee fourth (82), Morenci fifth (114), and Tombstone sixth (144). Willcox had three entrants, and both Saint David and Miami two each.

Rojas set the pace in 18:22.00 to top a field of 48. Smith was third (18:41.00), Haller fourth (19:18.00), Bierman sixth (19:28.30), and Kartchner 12th (20:28.30). Palmer came in 15th (20:37.00) and Bryce 16th (20:50.00).

Hackett came in second with 18:38.00, Vertrees eighth (20:04.00), Montierith 11th (20:28.00), Hatch 20th (21:19.00), and Fox 29th (22:37.00). Magby was 35th (23:27.00) and junior Van Hargis 47th (30:15.00).

Keaton was 13th (20:32.00), Aguallo 24th (21:42. 00), Billy 25th (21:59.00), Lee 36th (23:30.00), and Marquez 37th (23:33.00). Sophomore Brady Hooper was 43rd (25:47.00). Senior Ted Tiefel III finished 17th (34:50.00) of 17 in the Open portion.

Benson junior Zach Laura was seventh (19:45.00), senior Sean Laura ninth (20:06.00), sophomore Joseph Akers 18th (20:57.00), freshman Aaric Myatt 26th (22:02.00), and sophomore Matt Frost 33rd (23:12.00). Juniors Sy Arnold and Thomas Caywood finished 45th (27:11.00) and 48th (30:21.00), respectively.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci senior Damien Billy leans to his right to make the turn at the top of a ramp. He finished 25th during the 5th Copper Hills Invitational and 20th at the sectional a week later.

Bisbee sophomore Ramon Loya came in fifth (19:22.00), freshman David Chapman 17th (20:54.00), sophomore Jesus Moreno 19th (21:18.00), sophomore Fernando Gallegos 22nd (21:37.00), and junior Dario Noriega 32nd (23:00.00). Three other Pumas, senior Jose Pulido, freshman Juan Pablo Navarro, and sophomore Francisco Zamudio were 38th (23:38.00), 41st (24:13.00), and 46th (39:56.00), respectively.

Tombstone senior Chris Tinney finished 27th (22:17.00), senior Erick Amaya 30th (22:38.00), junior Devon Mize 34th (23:23.00), senior Mark Moore 39th (23:51.00), and freshman Anthony Piro 42nd (24:19.00). The sixth Yellow Jacket, senior Jonathan Vandenberg was 44th (26:59.00).

Saint David seniors Elijah Schmidt and Zack Hacker were 10th (20:14.00) and 28th (22:30.00), respectively; Miami senior Ryan Tidey 14th (20:34.00) and sophomore Landon Anthony 23rd (21:41.00); and Willcox senior Nathaniel Clement 21st (21:32.00), junior Johnny Collins 31st (22:43.00), and freshman M. Lane Whetten 40th (24:11.00).