The Navajo High School and Junior High School men’s and women’s cross-country teams began the season on a hot and humid day in Walters on Tuesday, where they traveled to take on some of the toughest small-school runners in the state.
With temperatures nearing 100 degrees and almost no wind, the ninth ranked high school men’s team hit the course and toughed it out. Senior David Gilstad led the way in 21st place with a time of 20:59 and sophomore Holdyn Mandrell in 23rd with a time of 21:40 to earn the Indians a top-five finish on the tough 5K course.
Meanwhile, the 17th ranked Lady Indians were led by sophomore Reilly Avila who finished in 10th place with a time of 15:00 in the 3200-meter run, earning the women’s team a top-five finish as well.
For the junior high school boys, Tucker Lamber finished in 17th place, Ethan Keochanthanivong was 32nd, Clayton Adams was 34th, John Harrold was 40th, and Matt Becker was 45th to lead the boys to a fifth-place team finish in a field of 111 runners.
The junior high school girls also finished fifth as a team and were led by eighth-graders Trinity Rohrer in fifth place and Lilie Graham in 22nd.
In addition to the junior high and high school meets, the Walter’s meet held a sixth-grade-and-under event. Navajo had four runners participate in the event and each runner medaled.
Lexie Little was neck-and-neck with the lead runner and gave it her all to pass and take over the top spot, but near the end of the race, she lost steam and ultimately dropped to a respectable sixth place. Teammate Raquel Quihui followed her in ninth, while Adison Friese took 11th and Taylor Smith finished 13th.
All-in-all it was a very successful day with every team finishing in the top five to start the season off on the right foot.
Although they strive for a first-place finish each and every meet, the season is still young for these Navajo teams and they are confident they can improve as the season goes along.
“It was a slow start to the year,” said 21st-place finisher David Gilstad. “One of our top runners became ill just before the race and another has not shown up yet, but if we can get him here and get it all together, I think we’ll be in pretty good shape this year.”
It is the belief that many in the program hold, but one thing is for sure, the season is still young and at this point, anything can happen.
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.