Anthem — The Hopi High School girls and boys cross country teams packed the runners in as they swept the 3A Arizona State cross country championships Nov. 9 at Anthem.
Hopi cruised to victory in the 3A girls race, and the teams from the 3A North dominated the meet by taking the top four team spots.
The Lady Bruins won the state championship with 55 points, Ganado grabbed second (83), Window Rock snagged third (97) and Tuba City finished fourth (111) points in the 15-team race.
Round Valley finished fifth (177), Alchesay took sixth (186), Seton Catholic placed seventh (192), Chino Valley grabbed eighth (193), Rio Rico took ninth (231) and Payson placed 10th (232).
The first three individual places went to Hardts. Whitney Hardt from Round Valley repeated as the individual state champ with a time of 18:33 in the 107-runner race.
Teammate Kari Hardt, Whitney’s sister, took second with a time of 18:45. Niece Kelsy Hardt from Hopi grabbed third with a time of 19:02. Hopi teammate Tracey Honani came in fourth right behind Kelsy Hardt.
The other members of the Hopi High School girls championship team were: Iva Sahneyah, 12th; Marlena Salina, 14th; Tara Secakuku, 26th; Rozanna Nasafotie, 33rd; and Alyssa Fredericks, 56th.
Ganado’s Leandra Thomas snagged eighth place to lead the Lady Hornets to the second place finish. Sharilyn Slivers finished 17th and Tierra Blacksheep took 19th for Ganado.
Gabrielle Francis took 15th to lead Window Rock. Teammate Tiffany Sorrell was right behind in 16th and Felicia Comb placed 18th.
Brandi Atene grabbed fifth place to pace Tuba City and teammate Kes Sewingyama was right behind in 16th, but the Lady Warriors didn’t have anyone else in the top 20.
The other runners finishing in the top 20 were: Priscilla Mendoza, Rio Rico, seventh; Megan-Ann Perrin, Fountain Hills, ninth; Jilletta Begay, Alchesay, 10th; Danielle Onate, 11th, Safford; Bobbie Kayanie, Monument Valley, 13th; and Heather Johnson, Winslow.
Hopi High’s Kelsy Hardt said winning the state championship was breathtaking.
“We worked hard as a team. We’re family. We want to come back next year and do it again. We’ll still run every day because it’s in our blood now. No one can take this away from us. It’s very emotional,” she said.
Hardt said she felt good about each of the Hardts finishing in the top three.
“It’s great. I can’t explain it, but what was most important today was the team (winning state),” she said.
Hardt added that she hopes to surpass her relatives at next year’s state meet.
Hardt credited freshman Tracey Honani and sophomore Rozanna Nasafotie with helping the Lady Bruins to the state title. She emphasized that seniors Tara Secakuku and Alyssa Fredericks and junior Iva Sahneyah have given Hopi leadership throughout the year.
Hardt said the Hopi runners packed together at each meet throughout the season.
“We kept believing in ourselves and we never gave up,” she said. “The fan support was tremendous and the fans have been our backbone. They keep us going by encouraging us.”
Hardt praised Hopi High Coach Harvey Honyouti.
“He does an awesome job, and he looks out for us. We consider him family,” she said. “Our team has been the greatest people to work with. They are great to be around, and they are unbelievable.”
Boys cross country
Hopi won the 16-team boys race with 32 points with Window Rock grabbing second (71), Tuba City snagging third (78), Rio Rico taking fourth with (95) and Payson placing fifth (175).
Alchesay finished sixth (175), Monument Valley placed seventh (206), Chino Valley grabbed eighth (249) and Seton Catholic finished ninth (272).
Eric Chavez of Rio Rico repeated as the individual state champion with a time of 15:34 in the 111 runner race. Jonathan Harmon of Holbrook placed second with a time of 15:47. Harmon was the 3A North Regional Champion.
But neither of those runners’ teams came close to packing together to give Hopi a competitive race. The top five Bruin runners finished in the top 14 to grab the state championship.
Stet Lomayestewa, Hopi’s quiet leader, grabbed third place with a time of 16:09 and teammate Matthew Honani came in right behind him. Harry Kisto III came in seventh, Travis Sahneyah took ninth and Steven Ovah placed 14th. The other members of the Hopi state championship team were Douglas Begay, 16th, and Aaron Johnson, 34th.
Hopi High Coach Rick Baker said the Bruins ran a super race.
“This is what you train for. You want to save the best race for last, and that’s what we did. It’s good to win. It was a little sweeter this year because it took a lot of work. We didn’t have the talent of the past, but we worked real hard to get to this level. I’m really proud of this group,” he said.
Coach Baker said each of the Hopi runners ran well, but Lomayestewa and Honani ran superb races as they were able to stay ahead of Window Rock’s top two runners.
“We ran to our potential, and we even surpassed our predictions,” he said.
The race was held in cool, overcast weather rather than the warm weather that the Phoenix area is used to having.
“The weather favored the teams to the north,” he said.
Coach Baker said Hopi went through its ups and downs this season but pulled through for a sweet ending.
Coach Baker said a special thanks goes to fans as many attended the football game at Hopi the previous night and then drove to Anthem either late at night or early in the morning.
“We had great fan support. A lot of the other schools were even pulling for Hopi. It was good encouragement for the team,” he said.
Since Hopi has only senior on this year’s team, Coach Baker said the Bruins have the potential to be really good next year.
“We’ve got a long way to go, but for right now we’re enjoying this one. We’ll rest up for awhile. Some will play basketball, then winter training for track and we’ll reset goals,” he said.
Window Rock’s Gordon Segay snagged fifth place to lead the Scouts to a second place finish. The other runners for Window Rock were: Brian Towne, 12th; Gabriel Haskie, 15th; Brent Sutton, 19th; Michael King, 25th; and Marvin Chester, 30th.
Lionel Dallas came in sixth to help Tuba City to its third place finish. Harold Smiley finished eighth and Nathaniel Numkena came in 11th to keep Tuba City right on Window Rock’s heels.
The other runners who finished in the top 20 were: Santos Castro, Rio Rico, 10th; Brandon Dahkoshay, Alchesay, 13th; Dustin Rogers, Payson, 17th; Tanner Morgan, Payson, 18th; and Brandon Sunny, Monument Valley, 20th.