Thatcher wins invitational while Morenci runners post improved times

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Thatcher girls pose following award presentations for their own meet Sept. 12. The Eagles placed first with 26 points. Team members (not in order) are Elliana Windsor, Ashlyn McMaster, Hailey Udall, Madiline Hughes, Akala Hatch, Adison Baum, and Melodie Moore.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

MORENCI – Morenci’s cross country girls have been posting faster times than last season in meets attended thus far. The program did not field a full team in 2017, but eighth-year coach Kenneth Lester has at least five participants at the starting line.

The Wildcats’ quintet includes senior Camrie McBride, juniors Desirae Babb, Miriam Frisch, and Yrliana Molina, and sophomore Kayla O’Connell.

Morenci visits Willcox Wednesday, Sept. 26 and Casa Grande Friday, Sept. 28, before hosting the Copper Hills Invitational Oct. 3.

Cobre Invitational

The Wildcats were second of three teams running in Bataan Park at Fort Bayard Sept. 15. Silver High totaled 37 points, Morenci 40, Las Cruces 43.

Individually, O’Connell clocked in with 23:46.40 for 3rd of 16 entrants, Babb with 26.10.20 for 6th, Frisch with 28:29.70 for 8th, McBride with 28:56.90 for 10th, and Molina with 29:05.80 for 13th.

Las Cruces junior Julia Fernald finished first (23:27.30) and Silver freshman Lauren Armendariz second (23:45.10).

Thatcher Invitational

Morenci had only three entrants in the Thatcher meet, O’Connell (23:54.06), Babb (27:20.00), and McBride (31:15.02).

Shanaya Victor of San Carlos edged out O’Connell for first (23:54.03) of 34 finishers. Shanae Dosela of Fort Thomas was third (24:21.01), Elliana Windsor of Thatcher fourth (24:41.05), and Amity Hall of Benson fifth (24:43.01).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Safford girls take a practice start in Discovery Park, and ended second to Thatcher Sept. 12. The Bulldog roster (not in order) included seniors Sabrina Gutierrez plus Breanna and Johnnie Melendez, junior Emma Hackett, and sophomores Taylor Gutierrez and Samantha Van Houten.

Host Thatcher won the meet with 26 points, followed by Safford (61), San Carlos (63), and Benson (81). Tombstone had four entrants, Willcox two and Fort Thomas one.

The team winner also included sophomore Ashlyn McMaster at 25:04.05 for 6th, junior Hailey Udall 7th (25:43.09), freshman Madiline Hughes 9th (26:32.05), and senior Akala Hatch 14th (28:37.07). Freshman Adison Baum at 18th (29:59.05) and senior Melodie Moore at 20th (31:42.02) also completed the course.

Runner-up Safford had senior Sabrina Gutierrez at 11th (27:48.09), junior Emma Hackett at 13th (28:23.07), sophomore Samantha Van Houten at 15th (28:51.05), senior Breanna Melendez at 23rd (33:27.09), and sophomore Taylor Gutierrez at 31st (39:33.01). Senior Johnnie Melendez came in 34th (42:23.04).

San Carlos also had Marissa Barrisa at 16th (29:19.05), Lorena Cosen at 21st (31:45.02), Julianna Gilbert at 26th (36:08.01), and Megan Polk at 27th (36:19.09). Kayani Case was 28th (36:24.00).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Thatcher sophomore Ashlyn McMaster set the pace early on the Discovery Park course, but ended sixth. Morenci sophomore Kayla O’Connell, left, finished second, and San Carlos sophomore Shanaya Victor was first.

Benson’s other runners included junior Dalia Moroyoqui at 24th (35:55.09), and freshmen Briana Prescott at 25th (35:56.02), Delma Santiago at 32nd (41:04.03), and Nicole Flint at 33rd (41:14.06).

Tombstone had sophomore Carmen Gonzalez at 8th (26:02.01), sophomore Jessika Howard at 12th (27:52.01), junior Clair Smith at 17th (29:32.04), and junior Cameron Young at 29th (36:25.02).

Willcox senior Viradiana Gutierrez was 22nd (33:23.07) and junior Ashley Riggs 30th (36:45.09).

Desert Solstice Invitational

Morenci was one of 67 schools represented in Marana Mountain View’s Desert Solstice Invitational at Crooked Tree Golf Course on Sept. 8.

Individually, there were no Wildcats in the Gold portion for 1-4 runners, but four in the Blue (5-8). O’Connell came in at 22:29.76 for 21st of 104 finishers, Babb at 23:57.38 for 43rd, Frisch at 25:35.66 for 68th, and McBride at 27:29.28 for 90th. Babb finished in 25:42.40 for 55th of 155 in 2017.

Payson Invitational

The Wildcats ended ninth of 10 teams scoring in Payson with 192 points.

O’Connell set a personal best 21:55.1 to place 10th of 111 finishers, junior Desirae Babb was 35th (24:08.2), junior Miriam Frisch 50th (25:36.0), senior Camrie McBride 61st (26:28.1), and junior Yrliana Molina 64th (26:59.9).

Babb and Molina clocked in at 26:41.10 (64th) and 31:27.28 (87th), respectively, in Payson last season. Babb has a personal best of 23:35.9 notched in 2016.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Thatcher meet participants take a practice run before the start of the race. Morenci junior Desirae Babb and sophomore Kayla O’Connell finished 10th (27:20.00) and 2nd (23:54.06), respectively, while Safford sophomore Samantha Van Houten was 15th (28:51.05) and San Carlos sophomore Shanaya Victor first (23:54.03).

Two freshmen also recorded times in Payson, Josie Young, and Erica Taylor, ending 106th (38:23.2) and 107th (38:40.1), respectively.

For fifth place Thatcher, McMaster finished 14th (22:17.90), Udall 21st (22:38.60), Windsor 25th (23:15.20), Hughes 31st (24:22.00), and junior Ashley Layton 49th (25:35.50).

Division II Queen Creek Casteel won the meet with 37 points with its five entrants each finishing in the first 17. Freshman Jadyn Heron-Jonap was first in 20:32.10, junior Cassidy Cann third (21:08.00), sophomore Melia Hecht seventh (21:41.9), junior Holly Deem ninth (21:37.50), and freshman Sydnee Elliott 17th (22:29.30).

Division III Queen Creek American Leadership was the runner-up with 65 points, Division I Queen Creek third (107), Division II Phoenix South Mountain fourth (119), Division IV Thatcher fifth (139), Division III Lakeside Blue Ridge sixth (180), Division III Cottonwood Mingus seventh (181), Division IV Chandler Valley Christian eighth (183), Division IV Morenci, and host Division III Payson 11th (244).