Originally Published: September 8, 2013 6:02 a.m.
Dozens of teams and hundreds of runners went north Saturday to see where they stand in high school cross country's first major invitational of the Fall season.
The annual Peaks Invite at Buffalo Park in Flagstaff offered its usual 5K loop course on a hard pack dirt urban trail. Runners were split into two self-selected varsity races: the Summit division, which is slightly faster, and the Ascent.
All three tri-city programs were on hand for the early run, which started with the Ascent girls at 8:45 a.m.
Bradshaw Mountain's boys and girls teams braved the Summit division, where weather and running conditions were "great," according to head coach Mike Simon.
Saul Martinez was the top-finishing runner for the Bears boys, clocking in at 18:52, which was good for 40th place overall.
The girls had a tight pack. Alicia Cornejo placed 78th (25:09) followed by the grouping of Rachel Zea in 85th (23:33), Athena Dias in 86th (25:35) and Lauren Hickok in 87th (25:36).
"An excellent pack with our first four runners," said Simon, whose team on Saturday was without its No. 1 runner, Hannah Madler, who is expected back this week. "They ran well today as a group, and had a good race considering it was for a lot of them their first invitational."
In the Ascent division, Prescott's girls placed second overall and the Badger boys took third on a big day for the Blue and Gold.
"We were really pleased with where we chose to be today (Ascent) to get our kids some experience and some good work and success," PHS head coach Clark Tenney said.
Tucson's Salpointe Catholic led the 23-team girls' field with 59 points, followed by Prescott (84), Greenway (107) and Kingman (126).
Claren Fraher, Prescott's No. 1 runner, placed second out of 95 runners with a time of 21:46. Teammate Jordan Twombly-Ellis was a tick behind her in third (21:47).
The Badger boys (113) finished behind Greenway (95) and Salpointe (98) in the 19-team field.
Simon Paige placed second out of 112 runners with a time of 17:26. Luke Arminio took 19th place (19:21).
Chino Valley's girls team placed ninth in the Ascent division, led by Cheyanne Penton's ninth-place finish in a time of 23:04.
The Cougar boys took eighth with 174 points as McKenzie Nez took ninth overall with a time of 18:54.
"Cheyanne and McKenzie had great races today," Chino head coach Marc Metz said. "I am encouraged with their ninth place finishes today at an invitational of this size."
This week, Chino heads to Prescott Valley to compete in a three-way meet at Bradshaw Mountain High School on Wednesday.
Prescott and Bradshaw meet up again on Saturday at the Badgers' annual Ray Wherley Invitational at Embry-Riddle in Prescott.