POLACCA, Ariz. - Hopi High School boys cross country placed five runners in the top 16 to smoke the rest of the field as the Bruins took first place at the Hopi Invite Sept. 1.
Hopi High Coach Rick "The Legend" Baker said the win was good for the boys.
"We haven't won the Hopi Invite for six years, but we were a little better prepared this year," he said.
It also helps that the Bruins returned six of seven runners from last year's state championship team.
"We're looking strong this year," he said.
Coach Baker noted that two runners moved up from junior varsity as he expects McCray Huma and Kelsey Jones to help the
team. He added that Ronnie Laban, Justin Secakuku and Brannon Sidney ran good races at the Hopi Invite.
Coach Baker said the runners ran on their own most of the summer, but they also came together as a team twice a week to make sure they were all in shape.
Hopi has won a state and national record 19 straight state boys cross country championships. He said their toughest competition this year should come from Many Farms.
"But we'll be ready for state. Our chances are good," he said. "Most of the North teams were here for the invite so we have an idea which teams are ready."
Coach Baker said it makes a big difference when runners run and stay in shape during the summer.
"They don't believe it until they see it," he said.
Coach Baker said his top seven runners are good students so he doesn't have to worry if they'll be academically eligible.
Ronnie Laban topped Hopi with a fifth place finish and Justin Secakuku grabbed eighth. The rest of the championship team included Kyle Silas, 12th; Brannon Sidney, 13th; McCray Huma, 16th; Kevin Tsinniginnie, 20th; and Clayden Torivio, 33rd.
Billy Orman from Tuba City High School was the individual winner in 16:05. His teammate Ryan Yazzie placed second.
Hopi won the race with 55 points, Page grabbed second with 67, Tuba City finished third with 101, Chinle took fourth with 111, Many Farms finished fifth with 121, Ganado settled for sixth with 123 and Coconino-Flagstaff finished seventh with 187.
The other teams finishing were Holbrook, eighth, 250; Snowflake, ninth, 297; Greyhills, 10th, 304; Monument Valley, 11th, 308; Winslow, 12th, 319; Valley Sanders, 13th, 355; and Alchesay, 14th, 375.
Page's Eathan Fowler snagged third place and Chinle's Jonathan Yazzie finished fourth with Robert Lowe from Many Farms taking sixth.
The others finishing in the top 20 were: Dennis Klain, Tuba City, seventh; Mike Russell, Page, eighth; Garriot James, Many Farms, 10th; Aaron Biah, Coconino, 11th; Brandon Wilson, Ganado, 14th; Chavis Curley, Page, 15th; Kyron Brown, Page, 17th; Darrick Joey, Chinle, 18th; and Koyai Claushee, Chinle, 19th.
Rolonda Jumbo won the individual title and led Chinle to the team championship in the girls race.
Chinle placed five runners in the top 17 to win with 17 points, Page took second with 55 points, Tuba City placed third with 81 points and Hopi High took fourth with 106 points.
Winslow placed fifth with 125. The rest of the field showed Ganado, sixth, 211; Valley-Sanders, seventh, 230; Coconino-Flagstaff, eighth, 271; Alchesay, ninth, 279; Many Farms, 10th, 238; and Shonto, 11th, 343.
Jumbo, a sophomore sensation, won the race in 19:47. She led the race from start to finish. She won this race last year and previously won the Hopi Junior High Invite twice.
Jumbo ran every day during the summer, usually running two or three times each day.
Jumbo gets her inspiration from her brother Reynoldo who was known for running before going into the military service. But she doesn't want to join the service as she wants to attend the University of Colorado at Boulder so she can run there and become a coach.
"I want to be like my Coach Sean Martin," she said.
Jumbo is confident that she can win state and that Chinle girls can repeat as the 3A state champions.
The other members of the Chinle girls championship team were Charnell Curley, fourth; Anjelica Bedonie, sixth; Andrea Jim, tenth; Reba Francisco, 17th; Stephanie Yazzie, 19h; and Shanelle Sells, 21st.
Hopi High Coach Laverne Lomakema said the Lady Bruins ran well.
"We were focusing on staying together," she said.
Coach Lomakema said the three team captains did a good job: Terissa Josytewa, Joelle Mansfield and Desire Torivio.
Hopi High girls won state last year in 2A, but lost two runners to graduation.
"Our goal is always to do well at state," she said. "We want to run together as a group. We're working on team strategies. We need to get stronger by working on our hills and speed work."
Coach Lomakema said newcomer Alvina Gilmore will help the team this year.
"Alvina stood out today considering she never ran before," she said.
Coach Lomakema said some of the girls have missed some practices due to religious ceremonies. She said the team practiced during the summer, but some of the girls were out of town.
"We need to fill in the gaps for those who were out of town," she said.
Coach Lomakema said Northland Prep will be the toughest competition in 2A this year.
"We ran neck and neck last year--and they returned all of their runners," she said.
Coach Lomakema tells her runners to stay away from drugs and alcohol. She said Coach Harvey Honyouti, who coached the program for about 20 years, always emphasized the need for the girls to stay away from drugs and alcohol.
"We also stress academics. We require tutoring," she said.
Coach Lomakema tells the girls to see their goals high whether it's cross country, academics or anything.
"I tell them that if you give it everything you've got then there's nothing you can't accomplish," she said. "But I also tell them that it will take work."
Chelena Betoney from Valley Sanders took second, Tuba City's April Tracy grabbed third and Bronte Curley from Page finished fifth.
The other runners finishing in the top 20 were Celeste Claw, Page, seventh; Alvina Gilmore, Hopi, eighth; Gabby Stacey, Winslow, ninth; Nicolette Coleman, Page, 11th; Jennifer Williams, Tuba City, 12th; Allison Denetchee, Ganado, 13th; Ashlee James, Page, 14th; Mystri Jody, Winslow, 15th; Allissa Dallas, Tuba City, 16th; Chelsea Curley, Page, 18th; and Shaelanna Antone, Hopi, 20th.