Tuba City Boarding School boys cross country team claims first state title

Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

TUBA CITY, Ariz. - This year's cross country season came to a spectacular close for the Tuba City Boarding School Thunderbirds as the varsity boys took home their first-ever state title. The girls' team came out with a respectable fifth place finish. There was much self-satisfaction and an immense sense of achievement since it has been three years in a row that the Thunderbird team has been running at a high caliber and placing in excellent standings.

The boys team scored 55 points to take the title with Hopi taking second with a score of 86.

"Yes, yes, how sweet it is," replied Coach Phil Coolie as the winning announcement was made. It's been three years in a row now that Coach Coolie has been awarded the Winning Coach Award by the Arizona Junior High School Athletic Association (AJHSAA).

"Our minds were set to claim our position, and we have waited for this day to come," Coach Coolie replied. With only the dream of winning the state title, the boys raced hard as they sped among their opponents on Oct. 30 at Estrella Park in Goodyear.

In the blazing heat, the top seven Thunderbird runners were well prepared to race against the 209 runners and 27 teams from all across Arizona. As the teams were called to the starting line, the Thunderbirds took their positions.

Once in the box, the runners took their stances, ears perked awaiting the gunshot that would release them on to the course. Most of all, they envisioned victory. Within seconds, the Thunderbird boys' team charged out of their box like speeding roadrunners surging to their ultimate destination of first place.

Halfway through the race, the top three were already in top 10 positions. Every racing step reeled in runners.

With that mindset, Christian Begody finished in third place, Kyle Sumatzkuku finished in 4th place, Triston Yellowman finished in sixth place; these top three made it possible for the team to become victorious.

Other team members included Albert Fuller (25th), Sedale Bighorse (27th), Ian Nelson (44th) and Tristin Begay (113th place). Again, Tuba City Thunderbirds have showcased their strength at the state level.

Upon returning home, the team had a small parade around the community last Monday evening with parental, school, and community support. Many members in the community showed their support as well.

Dr. William Orman, a long-time community member and father of renowned Tuba City High School running champ Billy Orman, congratulated Coach Coolie on a job well done.

He stated, "The Warrior cross country team will have a strong team in the near future." Orman sees the continuation of bright running talent in the town of Tuba City where dreams flourish and legacies continue to live strong.

Overall, the community members were overjoyed to hear about these young kids winning the state title. It's always a joy to work with coachable youngsters who dedicate themselves to run and persevere triumphantly.

Last year the boy's team was runner up, but this year strategies in training and running was the ultimate formula in creating a winning team.

"I am extremely happy and it is always an honor to recognize the youth in their [goals] as they continue with their running careers," said an elated Coach Coolie who has a great running career with a history of four consecutive High School Team State Championships while attending Tuba City High School and International Running.

Thanks to all our supporters in the community, people across the Navajo Nation, to all the parents who made this a memorable season, and most of all, to the members of the T-Bird cross country team. Continue attaining your goals and fulfilling your wishes with honor and pride.

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