Making a statement: Page boys, Window Rock’s Ryan Kee captured titles at Peaks Invite
All eyes are on the Page Sand Devils.
The same could be said about Window Rock harrier Ryan Kee.
On Saturday, the aforementioned parties put the state on notice by capturing the Peaks Invitational.
The Sand Devils won the Summit Race, the meet’s elite event, with a combined score of 63 points, while Kee was the individual winner, covering the 5K race in 17 minutes, 30.4 seconds.
Kee battled Salpointe Catholic’s Michael Urbanski throughout the race, and in a razor-thin finish, Kee edged the Tucson runner for the title.
“He passed me on the final curve, and he started to take off,” Kee said of his counterpart.
That final curve is set at the tail end of the course with a roughly half-mile left, and Kee said he made a couple of surges, but Urbanski maintained his lead.
“He kept taking off, but at the end, I had a little more energy, and I sprinted it in as fast as I could,” Kee said.
That final surge allowed the Window Rock runner to squeeze by Urbanski, who finished with a time of 17:31.1
“This feels good,” Kee said. “I really didn’t expect this. I was expecting to be in the top five.
“I just wanted to stay with the top runners, and I ended up winning,” he added.
Coupled with his win at the Hopi Invite last week, Kee is perfect 2-for-2 for the young season.
“I just want to get better,” he said of goals this season.
Meanwhile, Page competed in its first race of the year and made a huge statement by dominating the field with the team title with only five varsity runners.
Headed by sixth and seventh place finishes from senior Quentin Davis and freshman Symond Martin, the Sand Devils outpointed defending Division II state champs Flagstaff by 32 points.
The host squad placed three runners in the top 10 and finished with 95 points to Page’s 63.
“People now know that we’re serious,” Page coach Tim Martin said. “It definitely puts us on the radar because we beat Flag, the reigning state champs.
“We just didn’t beat them; we pretty much put it to them,” he added.
The Sand Devils showed its staying power with a 44-second gap time as Davis led the charge with an 18:10.8 effort. Symond Martin finished four seconds back, followed by senior Tanner Dugi (19:44.5), freshman Maximus Reid (18:50.7), and senior Gavyn Begay (18:55.3), with the latter three placing 14th, 16th, and 20th.
“The team is really strong,” Tim Martin said. “Up front, we’re very tough. We’re still working on getting the kids in shape, so we want to be a solid seven.
“Right now, we’re solid one through five,” he said. “We’re trying to get our backups to where they need to be.”
After sitting out for all last season due to a lower back injury, Davis said he’s still trying to find his form. Nonetheless, he’s running at near capacity.
“I’m still getting used to running high mileage after that long of a break,” he said. “It’s been a tough process and a slow process, but I’m staying consistent. I’m just trying to make progress throughout the year.”
The Page senior is unsure how his injury happened. Part of his recovery required him to make a weekly trip to Valley for physical therapy.
“I did six months of therapy,” he said. “It started out with a sharp pain in my back, and it affected my hips. It’s something to do with my spine, but I didn’t think it was that severe of an injury because I’ve been running a long time, and I didn’t think I would get an injury like this.”
The Page coach said he’s happy to have Davis back in the lineup, and his leadership will help develop some of the squad’s younger members, particularly the freshmen class.
“We gained two really strong freshmen this year,” he said. “With Quentin back, he’s going to help build the team back up.”
With that, the Sand Devils are looking to be state contenders as Page finished as the reserve champion last season.
“We’re going to do a lot of great things this year,” Davis said. “We’ve been training hard, and we have a good training plan in place, so I think we’re going to do pretty good this season.
“We can only get better,” he added. “We’re making progress with our summer training.”
Other top finishers include Ganado’s Micah Slivers (11th), Hopi’s Duwron Tawvaya (13th), and Window Rock’s Bearren Kee (19th).