Tuba City boys garner Peaks title, girls chase Jumbo's time

By Anne Griffis
Special to the Times

FLAGSTAFF, September 6, 2012

Text size: A A A

(Special to the Times – Anne Griffis)

TOP: A Window Rock Scouts runner leads a pack during the 2012 Peaks cross country invitational meet in Flagstaff over the weekend.

SECOND FROM TOP: The Tuba City Warriors pose with their first-place trophy during the 2012 Peaks cross country invitational meet in Flagstaff over the weekend.

THIRD FROM TOP: Rolonda Jumbo, a 2011 graduate from Chinle High, sported her Chinle High uniform during the 32nd annual George Kyte Classic, her collegiate running debut, which immediately followe the Peaks Invitational. Jumbo was recruited by Northern Arizona University but she was not allowed to wear the Lumberjack jersey.

T he Tuba City Warriors dominated the boy's race of the Peaks Invitational at Buffalo Park on Saturday, garnering first place for the first time in three decades.

A 75-point gap separated TC's total score of 41 points from Page's second-place finish at 116. Flagstaff High squealed into third with 136 points, just one point ahead of Mountain Ridge of Glendale.

Though TC's Shawn Tsinnijinnie crossed the finish line with a respectable time of 17:04, the strength of this year's team was not the star performance of a single runner, but the solidity of the entire team.

"They're running close together, with no gaps between them," said Warriors fan William Orman, also the father of former standout Billy Orman, who is now attending Harvard.

Tuba City placed runners in the top 13.

Freshman Albert Fuller took eighth place with a time of 17:51, followed by Kyle Nutumya and clocked 17:52, Eddie Loughran placed 10th in 18:01, and Kyle Sumatzkuku finished 13th with a time of 18:10.

"The team is really running as a group," said another fan Lisa Loughran, also a cross-country coach at Moenkopi Day School near Tuba City. "They enjoy each other, and have been running together for a long time. Three of the top runners - Albert, Eddie, and Kyle Sumatzkuku - are mine."

Loughran coached the top three runners.

Ryan Wesson of O'Connor High Individual placed overall second with a time of 17:15, followed by for Binahnii Curley of Window Rock (17:23).

The day was perfect for running, with playful sprinkles of rain falling from soft gray clouds above the San Francisco Peaks.

The course is 7,000 feet above sea level, giving northwestern Arizona teams, who have trained at high altitudes, an edge over those from Phoenix and the south.

Seventeen schools competed in the boys, while 12 teams raced on the girl's side.

"Any low altitude athlete who runs well today is going to have a great season," said Mountain Ridge head coach Don Tate.

"This is our first race of the season," said Christiana Benites of Mountain Ridge, whose time of 21:37 placed her at ninth in the girl's varsity race. "We've been training in the heat all summer, and coming to the Peaks is an opportunity for us to get away. It's great for team bonding too."

Mountain Ridge's Amber Christian placed fourth with a time of 21:02.

A total score of 120 points earned the Mountain Ridge girls third-place honors in the Summit event.

The Page Lady Sand Devils claimed first place in the girl's varsity race with a top score of 88, followed by Flagstaff High with a total of 101.

"We didn't expect this," said Page's Jayde Secody, whose individual time of 21:44 placed her first among her teammates and 11th overall. "We wanted to win for sure but we weren't arrogant about it."

Flagstaff's Tatiana Gillick place an overall first in 19:39, followed by Nikesha Eaglemen of Ganado with a time of 20:51, and Alice Jensen of Mesquite High in 20:56.

Trina Painter, head X-country coach for Flagstaff High was pleased about her team's performance despite some recent illnesses and nagging injuries.

"They made a good effort today. The competition was strong," said Painter. "This is just where we start. Our focus is on the end of the season."

Painter said that Gillick was missing Rolonda Jumbo, a 2011 graduate of Chinle High and four-time high school champion, who was "someone to chase."

Jumbo, who made her collegiate running debut this same day during the 32nd annual George Kyte Classic, immediately following the Peaks Invitational, broke the record last year finishing the Peaks course in 19:29.

Fans from Navajo and Hopi stayed for the to watch the performance of Jumbo, who sported her Chinle High uniform. She was recruited to run with Northern Arizona University last year but because of "NCAA issues" she was not allowed to run with a Lumberjack jersey.

"She is a hard worker and dedicated person. She's a positive influence on the team," said head NAU cross-country and track coach Eric Heins. "This is a stressful time for Rolonda, due to NCAA issues. She is on the team, just not wearing the uniform, yet."

Jumbo placed eighth overall.

Because the NAU campus is close to her family on the Navajo Nation, Jumbo accepted NAU's offer over those from countless universities.

"Everyone in the family went to school at NAU," said Jumbo's older brother Ronaldo Jumbo, who is a staff sergeant in the Marine Corps.

Having driven from San Diego to Flagstaff to watch his sister's first collegiate race, Ronaldo Jumbo acted as protector and spokesperson.

"It's time to go with your team," he said nudging Rolonda away from the hugs and high-fives of her fans. "She is a role model for the entire Navajo Nation. Coach (Shaun) Martin brought her to the point where she is able to leave the reservation. This is the reality, the real competition."

Back to top ^