Hopi boys break national record with 24th team title

By Quentin Jodie
Navajo Times

PHOENIX, Nov. 14, 2013

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(Times photo - Donovan Quintero)

Hopi Bruins boys team Anfernee Howard (523), Terry Honventewa (527), Kelan Poleahla (533), Sean Sloan (535), Aaron Swimmer (536), and Slim Jackson (528) pose for the cameras on Saturday after winning their 24th team at the Arizona Division IV state cross-country championships in Phoenix, Ariz. The Bruins set a national record by winning their 24th team title.




This one didn't come easy for the Hopi Bruins, but as a team they sprinted to the finish line in full stride to claim both the boys and girls Arizona Division IV state cross-country title at the Cave Creek Golf Course in Phoenix on Saturday.

The boy's team set a national record by winning its 24th state crown with a bevy of newcomers.

"We're not as stacked as we have been in the past," Hopi coach Rich Baker said. "We had some runners that didn't come out this year. We had some young guys that stepped up."

The Bruins finished the meet with 69 points headed by the second- and fifth-place performance from junior Anfernee Howard (16:32) and Terry Honventewa (16:50).

With three other legitimate teams to contend with, the Lady Bruins ran their best race of the year to maintain their dominance in girls cross country.

The Bruins finished the meet with 38 points ahead of Tucson Pusch Ridge (56), Scottsdale Prep (69) and Flagstaff Northland Prep (71).

"These girls took it to a whole new level," Hopi coach Laverne Lomakema said. "Coming into the race we talked a lot about team goals and individual goals but having that faith in our abilities and having that faith in our training played a huge factor."

Entering the final race, Lomakema asked her squad to improve on their 42-second pack time they set during the sectional meet two weeks ago.

They exceeded that as the Bruins shaved off seven seconds with senior Christen Ben leading the way with a second-place effort of 19:50.

"I have five seniors on this team that I have worked with the last four years," Lomakema said immediately following the awards ceremony. "They're great role models and this was our last race together and I am really glad we can celebrate it like this."

Howard lost the state title to Josh Hoskinson of Phoenix Arizona Lutheran. Hoskinson completed the race with a winning time of 16:14.

"I tried to go after that guy but he had a good lead on me," Howard said.

As for continuing the tradition he said, "it feels great knowing that we got a state title -- it's the team win that matters the most."

The rest of the team included Kelan Poleahla (15th), Jason Laban (21st), Aaron Swimmer (26th), Sean Sloan (33rd) and Slim Jackson (34th) with the first three being part of the team score.

"We ran tough and we ran like we wanted to," Baker said. "This is what we train for all year and it's good to end the season on a positive note."

Pinon (see separate story) finished second to Hopi while Many Farms placed fourth with 195 points. The Lobos were paced by Dominick Wilson's 16th-place finish and Zhariff Lee's 22nd performance.

"They ran a lot better today than what we did before," said Many Farms coach Nancy Teller. "I think they were real focused today and they pulled it off."

Red Mesa, which finished 18th in the team standings with 381 points, was led by Keithfer Jim as the freshman runner made the second-team all-state with his 10th place performance.

Red Valley-Cove runner Devin Howe also made the all-state team by placing in the top 21 with a 16th-place performance.


Girls

Like their counterpart, the Lady Bruins extended an impressive streak by winning its 22nd state title.

This one, however, was no slam-dunk as the Bruins had their work cut out for them.

"We had more competition this year but we didn't take that to heart," Ben said. "We just went out there and tried our best to get another championship."

Ben improved her personal record by 44 seconds at the state meet and came in 11 seconds behind individual winner Valentina Nyhart Northland Prep. Nyhart won the race with a winning time of 19:39.

"I'm pretty happy with where I finished but I'm also feeling sad because this was my last high school race," Ben said.

She was not the only one feeling that way as Claryn Josytewa, Randi Lomayestewa, Kaitlin Billy and Jennifer Lomayaketewa also capped their prep season as winners.

"This year's title stands out the most because we had to work hard for it," said Josytewa. "I am just happy that we were able to keep the tradition going."

With a time of 20:10, Josytewa placed 7th overall, four seconds ahead of Day (8th) and 11 seconds in front of Lomayestewa (10th). Billy rounded out the team score with an 11th-place finish in 20:25.

"I want to thank the fans for coming out," Lomakema said. "Every year they play a big role in motivating these girls."

Other finishers included Sanders Valley, as they placed 10th in the team standings with 261 points, headed by the 38th-place finish from senior Ernessa Yazzie.

Individually, Danah Smith made the all-state team with a 20th-place finish.

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