PAGE -- On Sept. 24, at the Page Steel/Lake Powell Cross Country Invitational Weston Jones of Red Mesa High School broke the course record (16:12 over the 5K course) and avenged early season losses to Page High School runners Donovan Tsinnijinnie (second -- 16:22) and Nathan Lee (third-16:42.)
However, as a team Page (ranked 10th in the nation in a recent poll) was untested scoring just 26 points to second place Chinle High School's 78 points. The Tuba City Warriors had hoped to challenge Chinle for second place, but fell short placing third with 97 points.
The story of the day was dominance. Jones took the lead from the gun and never trailed. Having lost close races earlier in the season, Jones appears to be getting stronger and putting some distance on the competition as the season rolls on.
As a team, Page has yet to be tested this season. Following Tsinnijinnie and Lee for Page were Antonio Smith (fourth -- 16:44), Levi Lomeland (fifth -- 16:49), and Tomai Bitsoie (12th -- 17:22).
Page Coach and race director Mark Lomeland was a bit choked up calling his team to the victory stand. His four seniors Tsinnijinnie, Lee, Smith and son Levi have the provided core of Page's dominance for some time and were running their final race on their home course.
Tuba City had some strong performances led by Chris Holve (eighth -- 17:05), but may have been done in by a week of Homecoming activities, lost workouts and the Warriors 55-0 football victory the night before. Most weary of all was Rick Worker (32nd -- 18:36) the school's spirit leader during football games.
As spirit leader, Worker did push-ups for each point scored and perhaps ran several extra miles on the field the night before. Worker, Holve and Harold Smiley (15th -- 17:35) typically form a strong top three for Tuba City. Running well and filling out the top five scorers for the Warriors were Lance Williams (19th -- 17:46) and Nick Morgan (23rd -- 18:02.)
On Oct. 1, Tuba City and most of the top teams in the state will be traveled to Tempe for the annual Doug Conley Invitational. The Doug Conley meet is the one race of the year where the best teams in the state, regardless of school size, have a chance to run head-to-head.
(Carl Perry is Assistant Cross Country Coach at TCHS High School.)