Ganado freshmen lead team's state qualifiers

By Quentin Jodie
Navajo Times

SHOW LOW, Ariz., April 11, 2013

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(Courtesy photo – White Mountain Independent)

TOP: Ganado freshmen Nikesha Eagleman (left) and Daangoiina Haven (right) have both qualified for the Arizona Division III state track meet in the 1600-meter run.

A t some point this season, their paths will cross.

And when it does, Ganado freshmen Nikesha Eagleman and Daangoiina Haven are hoping that they'll be ready to challenge the top brass of long distance runners in Arizona's Division III.

In particularly they have their eyes set on beating the marks set by Sedona's McKayla Seresun. The Sedona Red Rock senior put the prep running world on high alert after clocking an 11:33.94 mark in the 3,200-meters at the Chandler Invitational in late March.

Early last month Seresun set the bar in the 1,600-meters with a time of 5:22.25.

"The state meet is about a month away and she is the one to beat," Eagleman said of Seresun.

Currently, Eagleman is ranked No. 4 in both events and has qualified for state, having set personal records of 11:56.27 in the 3,200- and 5:28.75 in the 1,600-meter races at last month's Monument Valley Sunset meet in Kayenta.

Haven, meanwhile, has recorded the seventh fastest time overall in one-mile race with a 5:39.90 marking, five seconds under the state's automatic qualification mark.

Ganado coach Tony Kern said he's not surprise about the progress of his two elite runners.

"Basically what they have done speak for themselves," Kern said. "They have worked really hard and they understand what it takes mentally. As far as I see it, their work ethic and their mental approach is the reason why they have qualified."

Nevertheless there is still more work to do as Haven is only four seconds shy of meeting the state qualification mark in the 3,200 meter. Last Friday she ran a 12:40.09 in her first attempt at qualifying.

"My goal this year is to qualify in three events," Haven said. "I want to make it in the two-mile, one-mile and 800 meters but today the wind kind of bothered me."

Ganado assistant coach Lynette Lookingback said it was too bad of the wind's wreaked havoc, "otherwise our times would have looked better."

Lookingback said the conditions on Friday made it difficult for runners such as Micah Clark and Chadwick Arviso to meet the state qualifying standards.

Clark finished in second place in both the 1,600-meter run (5:05) and 3,200-meter run (11:23.68) last Friday while Arviso placed third in the two-mile (11:55.14) and fourth in the 800 meters (2:12.88).

"Micah is 32 seconds from qualifying in the 1,600s and Chadwick is 12 seconds from making it in the 800s," Lookingback said. "It's just a matter of time and effort for these guys to get qualified."

But like most schools from the area, the Ganado team is behind schedule. The Show Low meet was the team's third meet of the season.

"Most of the teams that are here have had at least five or six meets," Kerns said. "We're starting late but I hope that we're going to peak at the right time."

Kerns said the state qualification marks that were set two years ago are very difficult to meet so instead of trying to get as many kids qualified, he is taking a different approach.

"As far as every meet goes we're trying to improve our PRs," Kern said. "I think that's the step we need to take because for these kids it's all about competing and building their self esteem.

"We're going to take one step at a time and next year I see us getting better and better," he added. "This is a building process just like any sport."

Ganado senior Shiloh Wallace can attest to that as he improved his PR by two inches in the high jump competition at the Show Low meet.

Wallace, who cleared 5-feet-10, almost met the state's qualification mark of 6-0 but in two of his three attempts he didn't arch his back enough.

"His hips were above the bar but he didn't quite get his legs over," Kern said.

Nonetheless, Wallace was pretty happy with his performance and he said he's looking forward to the rest of the year as he tries to get qualified.

"The season is not over yet and I'm pretty sure my coaches will help me…" Wallace said. "I'm feeling pretty confident about making state because you don't see very many Navajos down there competing."

As a team the Ganado boys finished the Show Low meet in third place with 34 points, while the girls racked up 48 points, which was good enough for a third-place finish.

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