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7:48 AM Sun, Nov. 18th

Uphill battle

The Daily Courier/<br>Nathaniel Kastelic<br>Tim Freriks of Mingus, left, matches Prescott’s Ben Schild step for step Saturday morning at Embry-Riddle. Friends off the course as well, Freriks edged Schild at the finish line.

The Daily Courier/<br>Nathaniel Kastelic<br>Tim Freriks of Mingus, left, matches Prescott’s Ben Schild step for step Saturday morning at Embry-Riddle. Friends off the course as well, Freriks edged Schild at the finish line.

PRESCOTT - Weakened by illness, Mingus Union's Tim Freriks fell to the ground Friday afternoon during cross country practice in Cottonwood.

Less than 24 hours later, the Marauder junior easily won the overall boys title in the 36th annual Ray Wherley Invitational in Prescott. Freriks conquered the hill-dotted course at Embry-Riddle for a victory 32 seconds faster than his nearest competitor.

"He was a little scared coming into today because he's been sick," Mingus coach Jim Bostwick said. "He runs better that way. He should get sick every day."

Freriks had a duel going with friend and rival Ben Schild of Prescott over the first mile. But the Mingus junior pulled away with a strong performance on the hills.

"I like endurance hills. I can't sprint them but if there's a lot of them in a race, I can usually pull away," he said. "In the beginning, Ben Schild from Prescott was close. I just tried to push it has hard as I could on the hills and get a gap."

Freriks covered the 3.2-mile course in 16:57. Humberto Gonzalez of Cesar Chavez finished second at 17:29 and Schild was third at 17:42.

"About the first mile, we were pretty close and then he got away from me," Schild said. "I had to push to keep up with him in the first mile. It was definitely a little different from how I usually approach this race. The first time I ran it a couple of weeks back, I ran the first mile much faster."

Schild and Freriks just ran together in a 10-kilometer fun run over Labor Day weekend.

"He knows Ben very well. I think Tim had a very good race today because he and Ben are usually duking it out," Bostwick said. "Tim just had a really good day today."

Mingus won the boys team title with an overall time of 128:34, nearly seven minutes better than runner-up Class 5A-I Red Mountain. The Marauders turned in five of the meet's top 10 times.

Even though Freriks is currently No. 1, he's constantly pushed by teammates like Bruce Logan, Ky Mickelson, Wilson Cutbirth and Daniel James.

"He probably wasn't that good as a freshman but he's worked hard since then," Bostwick said. "It's just one of those cool stories where he was determined. He has one gear and he'll go all day at it. And the hillier the course, the better. He just loves Prescott."

Bradshaw Mountain had the top showing among the local schools with a seventh-place finish. Omar de los Santos, who battled illness all week, was ninth overall at 18:09.

"Man, they went out fast and just went at their own pace," de los Santos said. "This is not an easy course with all the hills. It's crazy."

Jesus Escalera had a strong showing for the Bears with an 18:34.

Prescott ended up ninth as a team. The Badgers competed without No. 3 runner Merritt Moore, who fell 15 feet off a hiking trail last weekend. Moore ended up in the emergency room with various injuries but PHS coach Dan Pemble said he will be back.

Chino Valley placed 14th out of the 20-school field. Larry Hermance was the Cougars' top runner with an 18:04.

Over on the girls side, Mountain Ridge dominated to win the team race by roughly 11 minutes. Page finished second with Red Mountain third. Mountain Ridge's Nadya Bishton won individual honors with a 16:35 on the girls' 2.75-mile course. Her twin sister, Nastia Bishton, was second at 16:54.

Among the locals, Bradshaw Mountain placed seventh with Shelby Meinhardt taking eighth in 19:29. Chino Valley was 14th as a team with the top girls time turned in by Kate Earle (22:21). Prescott finished 16th with the Badgers' top time coming from Anna McCabe (21:29).