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Cardinals continue drive toward title

By Michael Peretti
Special to the Times


Navajo Times | Paul Natonabah

St. Michael’s Ali Upshaw captured the Curtis Williams Invitational on Saturday at Red Rock Park. Upshaw finished with a time of 19:17.11.

The St. Michael Lady Cardinals continued their push toward defending their Arizona state title this past weekend with a strong performance at the Curtis Williams Invitational at Red Rock Park in Gallup.

“I am happy with how we did,” St. Michael head coach Kelly Bia said. “This was a good race for us.”

The Lady Cardinals packed their top three runners in the Top 7, with their No. 4 (Nizhoniibaa Phillips; 21:29) and No. 5 (Ashley Phillips; 21:59) runners coming in 11 and 15 respectively.

That was enough to give the Lady Cardinals the top team score of 40 points, well ahead of second place Kirtland Central, which placed runners in 3, 5, 13, 28 and 30 for 79 points.

Zuni came in third with 95, followed by Miyamura 137, Farmington 143, Los Lunas 151, Gallup 169, Aztec 170, Window Rock 180 and Grants 214.

St. Michael team leader Ali Upshaw, who has been the team’s consistent top runner for the past three years, won the race with a top time of 19:17, just under a minute ahead of the next runner, Lorianna Piestewa from Miyamura (20:16).

“I feel I ran well,” Upshaw said before echoing Bia: “It was a good race for us.”

Chiara Holgate placed sixth (21:05) and Amber Woody seventh (21:05) to give the Lady Cardinals a good advantage, with Phillips and Phillips rounding out the scoring to give St. Michael the win.

In third place overall was Kirtland’s Aisha Ramone (20:18). Farmington’s Kamalani Anitiely took fourth (20:51), followed by Autumn Harrison (KC, 20:59). Rounding out the Top 10 were Alexandria Bewanika from Zuni in seventh (21:18), teammate Kate Romancito in ninth (21:24) and Gallup’s Celine Nez in 10th (21:26).

Los Lunas’ top runner was Amanda Sparks in 14th (21:46), while Aztec’s top harrier was Autumn Roundy in 20th (22:20). Quannah Benallie took 22nd as Window Rock’s top runner while Kristan Simpson placed 16th to lead the way for Grants.

Bia said this race was good for her Lady Cardinals, as it was the first time this year the team has raced in back-to-back weeks.

“We want them to get used to running consecutive weeks,” she said, “because that is what they are going to have to do going into state.”

She said not having a week off will help prepare all of her runners, as the competition only gets tougher from this point on.


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