By GABRIELLE SHIOZAWA
Moapa Valley Progress
Despite the rigorous competition provided by athletes from 30 local high schools, members of the Moapa Valley High School Cross Country teams held their own at the prestigious Falcon Invitational at Foothill High School last Saturday. Runners from the Mack Lyon Middle School Cross Country teams were similarly successful when they performed against 12 other local schools during the same event.
The invitational began with two middle school races. Placing first on the 2.1 mile course was Leavitt Middle School’s Noah Espeleta, who finished at 12:44. Leading for the Lyon boys and taking 68th place in the race, at 18:14, was Taj Totten. Dalton Marshall placed 74th with his time of 19:13.
In the girls’ race, Faith Lutheran Middle School’s Claire Dalbec took first at 14:19. Savanna Burt, representing Lyon, came in 33rd with a time of 17:50.
Four high school races took place next. The repetitive 5k course took athletes across Foothill’s athletic fields and up and down the hilly outskirts of the school’s campus.
Starting out the high school competitions was the freshman/sophomore boys’ race. Faith Lutheran’s Aidan Baughan set the course with a 17:11 finish. Pirate runner Preston Humes was close behind, taking fifth place at 17:49 and narrowly beating out Somerset competitor Liam Baird. Samuel Jolley placed 28th at 19:13. Running close races and finishing at 19:38 in 36th place and at 19:56 in 38th place were Max Shambaugh and Gabriel Leavitt, respectively.
Freshman and sophomore girls took on the course next. Taking first place with an 18:56 finish was Jazmin Felix of Desert Pines. Hannah Watson was the first Pirate to cross the finish line, doing so at 24:01 and placing 27th. McKinley Bledsoe and Samantha Thompson finished ten seconds apart, taking 42nd place at 24:44 and 44th place at 24:54, respectively. Placing 50th at 25:44 was Alexa Canfield.
After a close race to the finish with Legacy competitor Guadalupe Gomez, Haley Bush pulled ahead for a 30:03 finish in 70th place. Isabella Bustillos placed 74th at 30:39, after which Kayli Thompson finished the race for Moapa Valley at 31:07 in 76th place.
“I was really happy that I was able to push hard, even with my injury,” commented Isabella Bustillos, a freshman. Bustillos has recently begun competing again after working through a knee injury.
In the junior/senior boys’ race, Conner Nicholas of Desert Oasis crossed the finish line in first place at 16:33. Jerrick Stastny set a record for himself when he finished at 17:17 in 14th place. Finishing in 26th place at 18:01 and 28th place at 18:02, respectively, were Nathaniel Thompson and Bryton Dorsey.
“It was a nice course,” commented Dorsey, a junior in his first year of running cross country. “We had a few constant uphills, but it was smooth. It was a good race!”
Taking first place in the junior/senior girls’ race, with a time of 19:15, was Foothill’s Myna Buckley. After a close race to the finish with Virgin Valley’s Citlali Orozco, Moapa Valley’s Emma Thompson pulled ahead for a 25:14 finish in 47th place. Kennadie Burt placed 67th at 27:19. Miranda Robison placed 78th at 28:29. Gabrielle Shiozawa placed 85th with her time of 29:05.
Pirate Cross Country will compete in the Lake Mead Invitational in Boulder City this Saturday.