Originally Published: September 1, 2012 10:51 p.m.
An annual high school cross country tradition got the running season started in earnest Saturday in Flagstaff.
Early September means the Peaks Invitational, one of the largest meets and first measuring sticks for prep cross country programs in the state. Both Prescott and Bradshaw Mountain competed on Saturday, on a 3.1-mile course under perfect running conditions - cool with a light sprinkle - at Buffalo Park in Flagstaff.
"Only two of our runners had raced at the varsity level at a big meet, so this meant lots of experience for the new runners," Bradshaw Mountain head coach Mike Simon said Saturday.
With two races taking place at the meet - the Ascent Race and the Summit Race - the Badger boys' squad placed second overall out of 20 teams in the Ascent Race.
"We were pleased to be in the Ascent Race and do very well," PHS head coach Clark Tenney said. "And it looks like we're going to be in the top quarter of teams in the state. We're looking forward to some big things from the boys this year."
Kingman won the boys' field with 100 points, followed by the Badgers (108), Gilbert (114) and Chaparral (141).
Out of 108 overall runners, Prescott's Hosava Kretzmann placed third with a time of 18:08. Simon Paige (ninth place, 18:48) and Vincent Arminio (14th, 19:07) were the other Badger runners to medal at the event.
Other PHS finishers included Chase Beazer (46th, 20:12), Luke Arminio (48th, 20:20), Kevin Campbell (67th, 20:52) and Gabriel Schirn (68th, 20:52).
The Badger girls, also competing in the Ascent Race, took third out of 20 teams. Chaparral was the overall winner (61) followed by Kingman (87), PHS (104) and Payson (148).
In a field of 116 total runners, Prescott's Claren Fraher crossed the line in fourth place with a time of 22:38. Fraher and teammate Jordan Twombly-Ellis (15th place, 23:22) earned medals at Peaks.
Other top finishers for the Lady Badgers were Jordyn Burks (26th, 24:21), Maddie Coyne (32nd, 24:52), Maddy Tilyou (45th, 25:15), Julia Jaquez (58th, 25:53) and Gracie Strasser (70th, 26:37).
"It's outstanding to see our girls coming together well," Tenney noted. "We're really pleased with how well they did as a team, and we're feeling good about things going into our home invitational next week."
The Badgers are expecting more than 20 teams - including Bradshaw Mountain and Chino Valley - this coming Saturday at their annual Ray Wherley Invite on the Embry-Riddle campus in Prescott.
At the Peaks, the Bradshaw boys placed 13th out of 18 teams in the Summit Race. First-year runner Cody Sharp turned in the team's best time with 19:23, good for 54th place. He was followed by Alex Villagran (60th, 19:42), Tycien Chaney (62nd, 19:46), Satchel Clifford (68th, 19:52) and Saul Martinez (83rd, 20:24).
The Bradshaw girls took 13th as a team, led by sisters Heidi (48th) and Hannah Madler (49th) who crossed the line together at 23:55. Also finishing were Desiree Woodruff (55th, 24:40), Erika Meza (65th, 26:09) and Abigail Kelley (78th, 33:03).
Both Bears teams compete this Wednesday at Washington High School.