Hopi High School won the boys 3A state championship cross country race, Ganado won the girls 3A state cross country championship race and teams from the 3A North Conference dominated the race Saturday at Anthem.
Hopi High School won the boys race, but Rio Rico, Ganado and Tuba City were right on their heels. The Bruins won the race with 61 points, Rio Rico grabbed second with 74, Ganado snagged third with 75 and Tuba City finished fourth with 75 points.
Winslow, also from the 3A North, placed fifth with 104 points. The rest of the team scoring showed Blue Ridge, sixth, 215; Holbrook, seventh, 252; Chino Valley, eighth, 262; Alchesay, ninth, 287; Fountain Hills, 10th, 293; River Valley, 11th, 313; Sahuarita, 12th, 314; Globe, 13th, 322; Higley, 14th, 336; Parker, 15th, 363; and Seton Catholic, 16th, 401.
Hopi was able to win the race by placing three runners in the top five and five runners in the top 32. The championship team runners were: Stet Lomayestewa, fourth; Matt Lamson, sixth; Vonn Secakuku, seventh; Travis Sahneyah, 25th; Chad Baker, 32nd; Jaynes Saufkie, 47th; and Andrew Honyaktewa, 55th.
Window Rock’s Gordon Segay was the individual state champion in the 121-runner race with Blue Ridge’s Matt Rowell placing second and Chino Valley’s John Killian grabbing third place.
The top five runners for second place Rio Rico were Mark Molerio, eighth; Christian Patino, 12th; Tanner Henson, 20th; Hector Flores, 23rd; and Alec Gotarez, 27th.
The top five runners for third place Ganado were John Bigwater, 11th; Cody Tsosie, 13th; Eric Kanuho, 14th; Beno Begay, 15th; and Ryan Roanhorse, 35th.
The top five runners for fourth place Tuba City were Christopher Holve, fifth; Harold Smiley, ninth; Rick Worker, 22nd; Dadrick Begaye, 26th; and Troy Johnson, 29th.
The other runners earning all-state medals by finishing in the top 28 were: Derek Spencer, Window Rock, 10th; Ryan Salt, Monument Valley, 16th; Angel Sanchez, Safford, 17th; Kyle Whitehair, Winslow, 18th; Andrew Taliman, Winslow, 19th; Derek Thompson,
Winslow, 21st; Dominick Whitehorse, Monument Valley, 24th; and Joseph Ricks, Winslow, 28th.
Lomayestewa, Hopi’s top runner, said it was a relief to win the state title.
“I feel good for the team. I’m proud of all of them,” he said.
Lomayestewa, who also plays basketball and runs track, hopes to obtain a cross country scholarship to college. He is the son of Belma Naha and Stetson Lomayestewa of Polacca.
Lamson said it was a close race, but he was also relieved when Hopi pulled it off.
“I felt happy that we won. At first I was nervous because we didn’t know where we finished. But I was happy once we found out that we won,” he said.
Lamson, who also plays basketball, also has hopes of getting a cross country scholarship. He is the son of Ralph Lamson and Ernestine Dashee of Second Mesa.
Secakuku said he couldn’t believe that Hopi High won the state championship.
“I am very proud of the team, and myself,” he said. Secakuku, who also plays basketball and runs track, wants to attend the University of Arizona. He is the son of Patrick and Pauline Secakuku and resides in Polacca.
Sahneyah said winning the state title was an ecstatic feeling as he found the course easier than before.
“It was cool,” he said.
Sahneyah, a senior, said he enjoys cross country because “once you start you can’t stop. There are no substitutes or timeouts.”
He is the son of Bonnie Secakuku and Herman Sahneyah.
Chad Baker said it felt great to win the state title. Baker, who also plays basketball and runs track, is also hoping for a cross country scholarship to college. He is the son of Debbie and Rick Baker of Sipaulovi.
Saufkie, who also felt relieved with winning the state title, said the course was pretty good, but in spots it was rocky and had holes.
Saufkie, who also plays basketball and baseball, also has plans for a cross country scholarship.
Honyaktewa, who also felt relieved and happy about Hopi winning state, said he likes cross country because it keeps him out of trouble and in good physical shape.
Honyaktewa, who also runs track, hopes to attend a university, but hasn’t decided which one yet. He is the son of Leroy and Lucy Honyaktewa of Mishongnovi.
Hopi will lose Lomayestewa and Sahneyah to graduation.
“We’ll miss them a lot because they ran for four years and showed a lot of consistency,” Coach Baker said.
But with four sophomores and one freshman coming up, Coach Baker said Hopi hopes to defend its state title next year.
Coach Baker said another key to retaining the state title will be to have a strong summer program.
“Our summer program wasn’t quite as active this past year and that’s one of the reasons we got beat at region,” he said. Coach Baker said Hopi High had strong fan support as always.
“I thank the fans for supporting the program,” he said.
Flagstaff’s Northland Prep won the 1A-2A boys race with 73 points, Red Mesa grabbed second with 85 and St. Michaels took third with 89 points. Valley Sanders took ninth with 247 points and Many Farms finished 15th with 392 points.
Weston Jones from Red Mesa was the individual state champ with teammate Bronson Jones placing second in the 152 runner race.
The other top five runners for second place Red Mesa were Eric Harvey, 22nd; Thurman Lane, 27th; and Thomas Littleben, 35th.
The top five runners for St. Michaels were Craig Curley, sixth; Myron Rintala, seventh; Will Slim, 19th; Marty Seaton, 26th; and Jerry Watchman, 33rd.
Ramsey Belone from Valley Sanders placed 20th to earn an all-state medal. In the 4A boys race, Page won with 40 points,
Flagstaff grabbed second with 94. Chinle took eighth with 245 points.
Kenny Cormier from Douglas was the individual state champ with Page’s Levi Lomeland taking second in the 174 runner race.
The top five runners for Page were Nathan Lee, fifth; Derrick Williams, ninth; Donovan Tsinnijinnie, tenth; Antonio Smith, 17th; and Tomai Bitsoi, 40th.
The top five runners for second place Flagstaff were Forrest Boughner, fourth; Jeff Cosper, 12th; Tyler Barton, 26th; Sam Robison, 30th; and Matt Vion, 31st. Sterling Yazzie was Chinle’s top runner as he finished 43rd.
(Stan Bindell, former Observer editor, is journalism and radio teacher at Hopi High School.)