Strong races for San Juan, Monument Valley
by Jessica Walker
The San Juan and Monument Valley high school cross country teams headed south to Flagstaff, AZ to compete in the annual Four Corners Invitational this past Saturday, September 17.
With 18 boys teams and 14 girls teams to contend with, there was an ample amount of competition. Both teams represented the county well, but the Broncos specifically made some noise at the event.
The San Juan boys cruised to a third-place finish on the hilly course, just three points behind Northland Preparatory Academy, with several athletes posting excellent times.
Edward Lyman sailed through the finish line in 14th with a time of 17:10. His brother Abe was the next athlete to come in with a 28th-place finish and a time of 18:24. In an exciting sprint to the finish Lyman narrowly bested an athlete from North Canyon High School by a second.
Ryan McCullough completed the race just four places behind Lyman in 32nd with a time of 18:49. Less than 20 seconds later was Logan Keith in 41st with a time of 19:08.
Rounding out the Bronco boys team was the trio of Toby Ward, Tayden Bitsoie, and Austin Pincock. Ward led the group in 44th with a time of 19:23.
Bitsoie and Pincock finished just over ten seconds after Ward, but within two tenths of each other. Bitsoie barely held off Pincock to finish 51st in 19:35.1, while Pincock finished 52nd in 19:35.3.
Leading the girls team to a 12th-place finish with a career record of over four minutes was Leah Castellon in 66th with a time of 25:35. Castellon, a senior, continues to impress with her speed and natural talent.
Saylor Perkins and Olivia Weeks were next across the line. They finished in quick succession with Perkins placing 76th in 26:00 and Weeks placing 77th in 26:03.
Next in was Brinley Jones who flew to the finish just two places and 20 seconds later, in 79th with a time of 26:23. Jones was followed by Rose Kartchner in 84th with her time of 27:35.
Rounding out the San Juan girls team were Taryn Nielson who placed 98th in 29:46 and Jessie Black who placed 104th in 33:52.
Competing alongside the Broncos, the Monument Valley Cougars handled the difficult, hilly Buffalo Park course and the stiff competition at the Four Corners Invite very capably.
Beating nearly half of the teams present, the boys team came home with a tenth-place finish. Leading the Cougars to the finish was junior Joseph Rodriguez in 27th with a time of 18:22. Rodriguez’s time currently places him eighth in the 1A rankings for the state, quite an impressive feat.
The next three Monument Valley runners finished within seconds of each other: Justin Yazzie (in 53rd with a time of 19:40), Logan Begay (in 56th with a time of 19:46), and Konner Begay (in 69th with a time of 19:52).
Shaun Tuni came next and crossed the finish line in 81st with a time of 20:42. Just five seconds later was teammate Jaron Anagai in 83rd with a time of 20:47.
Dominick Todacheene rounded out the Cougars boys team with a 91st-place finish and a time of 21:20.
For the Lady Cougars, Latisha Mutte was first across the finish line and she did so in a speedy time of 23:29, which is one of the top 15 1A performances in the state this year. Mutte finished 38th in the race.
Gabriellynn Atene followed Mutte to finish in 53rd with her time of 24:19. A pack of runners followed Atene and claimed 71st through 74th. Jakobi Smith, Emily Curley, Deleanna Yellowman, and Crystal Peterson finished within five seconds of each other with times of 25:51, 25:54, 25:56, and 25:57.
Having a group of runners so close to each other in place and time makes them a tough team to beat. Keiryn Mann was the final Cougar on the varsity squad and finished 86th in 27:48.
The San Juan Broncos will host all the San Juan County teams (Monument Valley, Monticello, and Whitehorse) along with teams from Mancos, CO and Rock Point, AZ in the annual John Thornton Invitational this Friday, September 23.
The races will take place at Pacheco Trail behind the Visitor Center with the boys race starting at 4 p.m. and the girls race starting at 4:05 p.m.