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Ganado’s Allen misses state title by one-tenth of a second

Ganado’s Allen misses state title by one-tenth of a second

PHOENIX – Ganado sophomore Damira Allen was bidding to become the school’s first individual state champion in girls cross country.

Allen lost the state title by milliseconds as she came up short to Gilbert Christian freshman Mila Russo in the Arizona Division III state race on the Cave Creek Golf Course Saturday afternoon.

Russo edged Allen at the finish line with the Gilbert Christian runner cutting the tape at 19:32.3 while Allen clocked in at 19:32.4.

“We were next to each other,” Allen said, while noting that she was working in front coming down that final stretch.

“I kind of got tired, and I should have sped up a little more,” the Ganado harrier said. “We were side by side until the end.”

First-year Ganado coach Elaina Vann said her pupil gave it her best as Allen was looking to win her fourth consecutive race.

“I knew she was shooting to come in first and it came down to who wants it and who’s going to push,” Vann said. “It was anybody’s race there at the finish line and the first-place winner crossed over a little bit faster.”

With Allen being a sophomore, Vann said there is a lot that she can learn from this experience.

“Each year these kids are getting faster and faster,” Vann said. “In a race like this, there are things that she can look at and see things that she needs to work on.

“But overall, she did a great job and I can’t fault her in any way,” she added. “She did an awesome job and she pushed like what she’s been doing in practice. To me, she did an awesome job.”

Of the eight races on Saturday, this race had the closest and most exciting finish in all of the school divisions.

“You know, Division III always brings it,” Vann said.

And although she was looking to win a state crown, Allen said she was proud to have taken second.

“I know I gave it my best, so I feel OK about it,” Allen said. “I still have two more years to do it, but I’ve improved a lot from last year and it’s all because of my training.”

With her top finish the Ganado harrier made the all-state team as well as Chinle junior Janessa Segay (seventh), Page senior Jade Reid (10th), Chinle senior Reshila Curley (19th) and Ganado sophomore Jasah McIntosh (21st).

In the team standings, the Hornets finished third overall with 143 points behind state champs American Leadership Academy-Queen Creek (91) and runners-up Gilbert Christian (98).

The defending girls state champions, Chinle, took fourth with 166 points.

“We’re losing three seniors, but we still have a good pack coming back,” Vann said of her squad. “We have girls moving up from the middle school that will inspire us. We’ll rebuild in that sense, and they’ll give us that fire to keep going.

“It’s all about what you’re willing to give, and both of our teams gave what they could,” Vann said. “They really pushed this season and I’m very proud of them.”

In the boys race, the Hornets were missing senior Jayden Smith who was recovering after being involved in a car accident. Smith was at the state meet hobbling with a cane, cheering on his teammates.

“Jayden was really looking forward to it,” Vann said. “Everybody was looking for him to possibly come up against (Page runner) Symond (Martin) again.

“Unfortunately, something happened along the way and it’s things we can’t control,” she added. “We’re hoping for a fast healing from him, and we’ll support him with his college races.”

Martin, who placed second individually in the boys race, was heartbroken that Smith couldn’t race.

“I was told he was in an accident, and he wasn’t able to run,” Martin said. “It would have been fun for him to be racing with me, but unfortunately he was in a car accident.”

About The Author

Quentin Jodie

Quentin Jodie is the Sports Editor for the Navajo Times. He started working for the Navajo Times in February 2010 and was promoted to the Sports Editor position at the end of summer in 2012. Previously, he wrote for the Gallup Independent. Reach him at


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