It was his first, but Skyline senior Grant Kennedy is hoping for a few more victories like the one on Saturday at the Peaks Invitational in Flagstaff.
Kennedy won the season-opening, 5,000-meter Ascent race at Flagstaff’s Buffalo Park, finishing nine-seconds clear of the field in 17 minutes, 47.27 seconds.
“It was kind of crazy, being at the top for the whole race,” said Kennedy, who finished third in this race last year. “On the last mile, I could hear the guy right behind me, and as soon as we hit the downhill for the last 3/4 mile, I was running away.
“It was amazing to be coming in and knowing that there was no one ahead of me. That’s what I wanted to do, so it’s cool to do it.”
Skyline coach Mike Roelofs said that Kennedy’s time was the best by any Skyline runner at the Peaks Invite, a meet Skyline has come to for many years.
“It’s a huge shot of confidence to know that the goals that I have set are accomplishable,” said Kennedy. “This shows that everything I’ve set out to do this year are in reach.”
Kennedy’s effort helped Skyline finish second behind Flagstaff’s Northland Prep, which finished with 39 points. Skyline scored 56 points and Dobson was third with 90 points.
“They’re going to bring home a trophy, which is nice,” said Roelofs. “The team that beat us, Northland Prep, they live here, so I’ve been telling the boys it’s like fighting a shark in water. I was really happy with how we did.”
Skyline’s 2-3-4 runners finished close together, with junior Ethan Howard finishing 10th in 18:50.05, sophomore Jacob Doest 11th in 18:56.86 and senior Austin Owen 12th in 19:17.26. Senior Lawson Lundquist was 22nd for Skyline in 19:59.75, junior Carter Giambri was 24th (20:10.87) and sophomore Tatum Jelleberg was 31st in 20:26.68.
The Skyline girls were coming off two straight team titles in the Ascent division at the Peaks Invite, but the streak came to an end, as the Coyotes finished third with 84 points. Northland Prep also won the girls division with 47 points and Boulder Creek was second with 59.
Skyline’s top finisher was junior Carlene Hamilton, who was fourth in 21:30.50. Other Skyline finishers were sophomore Taryn Bickle (17th, 23:35.84), sophomore Kaylee Freudenthal (21st, 24:05.59), sophomore Alyssa Bickle (25th, 24:28.31), freshman Silicea Price (24:46.03) and senior Giselle Retana (40th, 25:37.80).
The Mustangs also competed at The Peaks Invitational and ran in the Ascent race, placing third in the boys race (right behind Skyline) with 90 points.
Dobson senior Scott Sally had a strong performance to lead the way, placing 8th in 18:41.01. Another senior, Claudio Garcia was 14th in 19:35.81, followed to the line by freshman Adam Honawa (18th, 19:45.48), juniors Stephen Dilley (21st, 19:56.79) and Tanner Rackow (29th, 20:24.17) and sophomores Justin Legg (33rd, 20:36.67) and Grant Alexander (62nd, 22:19.96).
The Mustangs had only two girls compete in the Ascent race, with sophomores Brooke Stratman and Susana Sallad finishing in 47th and 48th place, respectively, in 26:12.59 and 26:20.97.
The Mountain Lions were the hosts of Saturday’s King of the Mountain Invitational at Longbow Golf Club in Mesa. The Red Mountain girls enjoyed a strong performance in their season-opening meet, finishing in second place behind Highland. The Hawks’ winning total was 32 points, just seven ahead of Red Mountain. Hamilton was third with 53, Mesquite was fourth with 113 and Westwood rounded out the top five with 116 points.
The top two finishers in the 3.1-mile race were both sophomores, Highland’s Caroline McLeskey won in 19:09.66 and Red Mountain’s
was second in 20:14.71. The Mountain Lions had all five of their runners in the top 15 finishers. Freshman Brenna Borgeois was fifth (20:54.66), senior Jacquelin Santos was 9th (21:17.42), junior Riley Boyer 11th (21:56.93) and sophomore Emma Elsner 15th (22:20.51).
In the boys division, Red Mountain (88 points) finished fourth behind Highland (40), Hamilton (42) and Desert Vista (63). The Mountain Lions were led by junior Broderick Bourgeois who ran 17:03.58 to place sixth. Matthew Smith wasn’t far behind in ninth place, finishing in 17:20.89. Mason Hofmann was 20th for the Lions in 18:21.02 and Zach Adam and Max Rogers were 27th and 28th, respectively, in 18:39.92 and 18:44.92.
The Warriors opened up their season at the King of the Mountain Invitational, with the girls finishing in fifth place and the boys in seventh place. Westwood’s best finishes came in the girls race, where Abrielle John was 26th in 24:13.59 and Joliene Durham was 27th in 24:33.94. Sydney Carlos was 29th for the Warriors in 25:07.22, Summer Gautier 37th (27:17.34) and Kalena Oorlog 38th in 28:13.32.
The top finisher for the boys was Eduardo Amastal, who ran 19:14.24 and placed 30th. Other Westwood placers were Vincent Brown in 38th ( 20:39.31), Oscar Nieblas in 41st (21:03.16), Jose Leyva in 45th (22:57.24) and Aaron Claggett in 49th (24:55.48).
The Toros opened up their season on Saturday at the Chandler Invitational at Tumbleweed Park. The Chandler Invite has a unique format, with runners competing by year in school (freshman, sophomore, junior and senior). The team champ is determined by taking each schools’ top finisher in each race and adding the total.
The Mountain View girls totaled 20 points to win the team championship over defending champion Chandler (who had 36). Mountain View’s freshman, Abigail Welch, was second in her 3.1 mile race in 21:02. The Toros sophomore, Elizabeth Christensen, was third in her race at 20:48.10. Mountain View’s top junior was Kailey Welch, who took third in 19:36.00, the Toros fastest time of the day. Senior Aryanna Tahilliani was 12th to round out the scoring, finishing in 21:55.50.
Mountain View senior Carson Klepinger posted the fastest boys time of the day, winning the senior race in 16:15. His win wasn’t enough to get the Toros the team title, which was claimed by Campo Verde, who had 19 points. Mountain View and Chandler were right behind the winners with 27 points each.
Mountain View had a strong showing in the junior race, with Zachary Frisch placing fourth in 16:53 and Braden Rasmussen fifth in 17:13. In the sophomore race, Matt Judd was the top finisher for Mountain View, placing 11th in 17:41. Freshman Joshua Judd opened his high school career with an 11th place effort in 19:32.
– Steve Burks is a freelance writer for MyNewsMesa.com.