By GABRIELLE SHIOZAWA
Moapa Valley Progress
After their groundbreaking win at the Divisional meet the week before, tensions were high for the Moapa Valley High School Cross Country teams on Friday, Oct. 27 at the Regional Championships. The teams now had a reputation to uphold. They had dreams to fulfill, and they had history to make. And the Pirate runners most certainly accomplished that.
Last year, the boys’ team placed fourth in the region. This record-breaking achievement qualified them for the state competition, where they placed seventh overall.
This year, five of those seven boys returned, along with two new recruits, to take on the regional competition yet again.
The tough 5k course on which they ran at Boulder City’s Veterans Memorial Park featured sharp turns, long stretches of dry desert, loops around a large pond, and an uphill ascent to the finish line.
In the boys’ race, Nathaniel Thompson stayed neck-and-neck with 2016 state champion Bryce Odegard. But the Pahrump Valley runner eventually pulled ahead for a 17:36 finish in first place.
Jerrick Stastny was actually first across the finish line for the Pirates placing fourth with his time of 18:14. Preston Humes finished at 18:27 in seventh place. Nathaniel Thompson ended in 12th place with his time of 18:50.
After a sprint to the finish against Mojave’s James Fincher and Cheyenne’s Rylan Banegas, Bryton Dorsey pulled ahead for a 19:00 finish in 15th place, beating his competitors by mere milliseconds.
Samuel Jolley finished at 19:27, taking 22nd place, after which Zachary Anderson took 24th place at 19:42. Nathan Waite finished off the race for the Pirates with a 19:50 finish in 27th place.
The MVHS boys placed second overall with 60 points, qualifying as a team for State. They fell a mere 21 points behind Pahrump Valley.
“I’m really proud of my team,” said freshman athlete Preston Humes. “This was a team effort, and I think we all did really well!”
“We took second place to Pahrump, and that’s okay,” was Coach Gary Watkins’s matter-of-fact response, “because they’re a very strong team, and that says that we’re also a very strong team.
“I think we can take Pahrump [at state],” he said adamantly. “Game on!”
The girls headed onto the course next. Desert Pines’s Jazmin Felix placed first with her time of 20:39. Andrea Mogren was the first Pirate to finish, taking eighth place with her time of 23:00. McKinley Bledsoe took 13th place at 23:36. Samantha Thompson and Emma Thompson stayed together for most of the race and finished only ten seconds apart, taking 26th place at 25:11 and 27th place at 25:21, respectively. After a close race to the finish with Sunrise Mountain’s Michelle Cisneros, Hannah Watson sprinted ahead for a 26:30 finish, taking 39th place and beating her opponent by two seconds. Alexa Canfield placed 50th with her time of 27:44, after which Isabella Bustillos finished off the race for the Pirate girls at 27:57.
The top four teams in the Regional Championship qualify for the state competition. The MVHS girls placed fifth, falling only 17 points behind Boulder City.
Although they did not make it to State as a team, two of the Pirate girls qualified as individuals: Andrea Mogren and McKinley Bledsoe.
“It feels amazing to be going to state because this is my first and last time doing cross country,” commented Mogren, a Swedish foreign exchange student.
“I’m just really excited that I made it my freshman year,” said Bledsoe, “and that I get to go with Andrea!”
“We’re going to rock State,” added Mogren confidently. “Together!”
Coach Heather Humes was similarly thrilled by her girls’ accomplishment. The last time that members of the MVHS Girls Cross Country team qualified for state was in 2011, at a point when only four teams were in the Southern Nevada region.
“We’re just so thrilled that we could have two of them come through,” said Humes.
As for the rest of the team, Humes says that their performance needs to be celebrated as well. “They bridged a lot of gaps, they learned a lot of lessons, and, as a team, we’re in a better place than we’ve ever been,” she remarked.
This Saturday, the Pirate boys’ team, along with Mogren and Bledsoe, will compete in the State Championship at Shadow Mountain Park in Sparks, Nevada.