Yuma runners in state meet Saturday

A historical season for Yuma High School cross country became even more so last Thursday.
The 2020 campaign already is noteworthy for the combined success of the girls and boys teams in the same season, including both winning team titles at the same meet. Both also have been ranked as high as third in Class 2A.

Then came the Class 2A Region 1 Meet last Thursday in Lyons.
For the first time ever, the YHS girls qualified as a team for the Class 2A State Cross Country Championships, placing third at regional, finishing behind only Lake County and Heritage Christian.
What’s more, the boys’ team will be represented at state as sophomore Javier Duran qualified individually. The boys finished sixth in the team standings, two spots out of a team state berth.

YHS girls cross country team members Abril Montes de Oca, Nuvia Vega, Caddis Robinson, Ashley Ibanez, Hailey Eyring, Samantha Wells, Meidi Reyes, Shelby Blach and Lea Richardson pose for a picture after placing third at regional, qualifying as a team for state. (Dave Gustafson)

“We’ve had to dogfight out of that region for years,” coach Robert Zahller said. “It’s a pretty tough spot to fight out of. The girls beating Lyons, that’s a big victory for Yuma cross country.”
All classifications will have their state meets Saturday at the Norris-Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs. It is the first time the YHS program will have a representative in several years. The last YHS student to run at the state meet was Ty Thurston.
Duran will be in the boys race at 2 p.m. Shelby Blach, Ashley Ibanez, Hailey Eyring, Lea Richardson and Samantha Wells will compete in the girls race beginning at 2:45. Meidi Reyes is going as the alternate in case one of the others cannot compete.
One can watch the start and finish live on the NFHS Network, and the races will be updated live on CHSAANow.com.
Fans will not be allowed at the starting or finish lines but can watch on the park side of the complex, which Zahller said accounts for roughly 75 percent of the race course.
Yuma’s runners will go to Colorado Springs on Friday, and will have an opportunity to check out the course before spending the night in the team hotel.
Shelby Blach runs the regional course in Lyons, last week. (Dave Gustafson)
The Yuma girls ran themselves into a team state berth with a great effort at Lyons last Thursday. Lake County won the regional title with 27 points, while Heritage Christian was second with 49, and Yuyma third with 53. Lyons was a close fourth with 54. Shining Mountain was fifth with 67, Clear Creek sixth with 68, Wiggins seventh with 125 and Byers eighth with 130.
Ibanez, a freshman, led the way for the Indians placing 10th by covering
Ashley Ibanez led the way for the Indians at regional, last week in Lyons. (Dave Gustafson)
the course in 22 minutes, 54.9 seconds. Blach was 17th as the senior finished in 23:25.5. Eyring was right behind her, as the sophomore was 18th in 23:34.10. Richardson, a sophomore, rounded out the scoring by placing 22nd in 24:02.0. Wells placed 40th with a time of 26:08.10.
“I thought our five girls ran really well,” Zahller said. “They’re poised to do really well again this weekend.”
Yuma’s boys had their sights also set on a team state berth, but it just was not meant to be despite a strong effort. The boys ran first, so they were the ones to initially experience the unusual practice of starting runners in waves every two seconds.
“It’s probably the toughest way to do a competitive race because field doesn’t exist,” Zahller said.
Heritage Christian won the regional title with 30 points, Lyons was second with 48, Twin Peaks Charter Academy and Lake County both had 74 points, Wiggins fifth with 10, and Yuma sixth with 100. Dawson School, Front Range Christian, Byers, Clear Creek, Strasburg, Rocky Mountain Lutheran and Highland all finished behind the Indians.
Javier Duran earned himself an individual berth to state, last week at regoinal. (Dave Gustafson)
Duran earned himself one of the individual berths by placing 11th in 18:38.9.
“He’s only a sophomore,” Zahller noted, “maybe it’s a case of getting him in first and the team will follow.”
Freshman Angel Escobar placed 26th in 19:45.7. Senior Braden Smith was 32nd in 19:59.7, junior Jaxson Lungwitz 33rd in 20:06.8, and sophomore Jesus Ross 35th in 20:13.6.
There were 72 runners in the boys race, so all of the Yuma competitors placed in the top half. Unfortunately, it was not enough for a team berth to state.
The girls, though, have one last chance as a team.
“I’m optimistic they can be a contender for a top-five finish,” Zahller said.