TOMBSTONE — The Thatcher Eagles swept the Justin Prevatte Classic, hosted by Tombstone High School, on Wednesday.
Thatcher finished first in the boys race with 24 points followed by Benson in second with 48 points, Bisbee third with 91, Buckeye fourth with 98 points and Willcox fifth with 118. Non-scoring teams that competed in the boys race were Safford, Morenci, Tombstone and St. David.
The Thatcher girls finished with 28 points to place first. Benson was second with 41 and Willcox third with 66. Non-scoring teams that competed were Safford, Morenci, Tombstone and St. David.
In the girls race, which had 24 runners, Benson’s Amity Hall finished first, covering the 3-mile course in a time of 20:46.88. Ainsley Hepworth of Willcox was second in 21:25.15, Thatcher’s McCall Lee (21:40.49) was third and Sedona Nelson (21:58.17) was fourth. Morenci’s Valerie Zegerra was fifth in 22:59.93.
Hall, a senior, said she was happy with her performance and felt the most challenging part of the course was the washes which the athletes had to run through.
“This is my second race this season,” she said. “I was also first in our Benson meet last week.”
Hall said her goal is to run a sub-20, which she feels is possible as long as she continues to train the way she has been.
“I’m liking what I’m seeing with this team,” she said. “I feel we have the potential to do well and make state.”
The boys race had 42 runners and was won by Thatcher’s Joby Rojas in 16:31.95. Coming in second was his teammate, Dean Haller, in 16:45.69. Safford’s Jack Hackett (17:39.89) was third, Benson’s Joseph Akers (17:56.84) and Oscar Bergh (18:04.04) placed fourth and fifth and Bisbee’s Ramon Loya (18:07.13) was sixth. Thatcher placed seven runners in the top 11.
Thatcher coach Chris Cook said this was his team’s first meet of the season. He was pleased with how his runners started the season.
“I felt both teams were awesome today,” Cook said. “We started a few weeks earlier than we normally do; I think we are a little better than we normally are at this point of the season. We have a deeper team than normal. We have 74 runners out this season and a lot of junior varsity kids who are pushing the varsity. We’re looking forward to having a great year.”
Cook said he enjoys coming to Tombstone every year.
“They run a great race, it’s always well organized,” he said. “It’s always a fast race and helps the kids get motivated.”
Benson coach Randy Barney is proud of his runners and the work they are putting in this year.
“They are a great group on and off the course,” he said. “I am confident that our team will continue to work through the challenges of a competitive season and we will meet our goals at sectionals and state.”
Tombstone coach Jake Winslow said it was a very competitive meet.
“The schools that showed up today brought some quality athletes and I felt they raced really well, especially for being this early in the season,” he said. “Despite the small numbers and the small number of teams I felt it was a high quality race.”
Winslow said getting the course ready was a challenge.
“We had about 3 inches of rain here at the school on Sunday and I looked at it after our workout on Monday and was concerned as to whether or not we could pull it off,” he said. “I have to give credit to our maintenance staff. They did a tremendous job. They contacted the city and got a bulldozer down in the wash and did a lot of work around the course getting it ready for today. This event would not be possible without the help and support of everyone involved.”
Up next for many of the teams that participated Wednesday is the Willcox Invitational Wednesday, Sept. 15. Twenty-three schools from throughout southern Arizona are scheduled to participate.