Girls and boys teams from Pusch Ridge Christian Academy raced to Division IV crowns in Saturday's sectional cross-country meets at Marana High School.
Coach Elmer Yazzie's girls, paced by the 1-2 finish of sophomore Sarah Macdonald and senior Brennan Smith, led the field with 30 points.
On the boys side, Pusch Ridge senior Caleb Herrera ran tightly with Nico Montanez of St. Augustine Catholic before Montanez pulled out victory by less than a second. Still, Herrera's effort helped Pusch Ridge win the region by a point over St. Augustine.
“We've run fairly consistent,” said Pusch Ridge coach Elmer Yazzie, who is assisted by Jim Kirk and Ken Cottrell.
Macdonald and Smith “ran well,” Yazzie said. The Lions' Allie Scott and Kaylee Bowers were seventh and eighth, respectively.
It's a different environment for Pusch Ridge at Saturday's state meet, held once more at the Cave Creek Golf Course. Strong teams from Sedona Red Rock, Northland Prep and Hopi are formidable.
“It's going to be a tight race,” Yazzie said. “The schools from up north are quite strong. We have a realistic opportunity for fourth or fifth.”
Herrera and Montanez “have been shoulder to shoulder for the late part of the season,” Yazzie said. “Those two boys ought to do quite well at the state meet.” Again, powerful runners from the north are strong threats for Pusch Ridge.
Freshman Kyle Cajero was fourth, Josh Tvrdy 12th and John Rosenberg 18th for the Lions. Rosenberg “ran a wonderful race for us,” Yazzie said, and the others were good as well, he noted.
Division II, boys
Top-16 finishes by Wally Hensley (8th), Cal Skilsky (14th) and Alex Odenkirk (16th) helped the Ironwood Ridge boys team to fourth place at the sectional meet.
Daniel Wong of Canyon Del Oro was the top Northwest finisher, placing second to Rex Woodbury of Catalina Foothills. Mark Bennett of Marana finished 11th, Lance Pedersen of Mountain View 23rd.
Powerhouse Catalina Foothills had four top-10 runners in winning the sectional with 38 points, ahead of Flowing Wells (79), Perry (113) and Ironwood Ridge (123) in a 16-team field. Mountain View wound up seventh with 210 points, CDO ninth at 230, and Marana 11th at 236.
Division II, girls
Four Northwest runners cracked the top seven Saturday, and Ironwood Ridge placed third in a 15-team field.
Kerri Lenihan of Mountain View ran to second overall, just over four seconds behind Konnie Zuniga of Nogales. Ironwood Ridge's Lauren Cooper was fifth, CDO's Taylor Stewart sixth and Ridge's Emily Wilkinson seventh.
Among team tallies, Ironwood Ridge trailed Nogales and Sahuaro with 96 points. Mountain View took fifth with 136 points, CDO sixth with 148, and Marana 12th with 322.