Future is bright for young Miners’ X-Country team

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Victoria Zazueta and Araceli Curry. Photo by Kalin Anderson Begay

  The 2017 San Manuel cross-country team consists of 13 members – five boys and eight girls – with only three seniors. Of the remaining 10 runners, five are freshmen and two are sophomores.

According to second-year head coach Dale Russell, the top performers this season were freshman Victoria Zazueta and sophomore Araceli Curry.

  Zazueta placed ninth at sectionals and was the Miners’ lone representative at the state meet last weekend, where she placed 62nd out of 156 runners. She was the first runner to qualify for the state meet under Russell’s direction.

  Among the three seniors are returners Yesenia Arcienega and Rebekah Messing, who both served as captains on this year’s team. Emily Riekofski is the other senior runner.

  “I will definitely miss my seniors next season, but I believe they have set the tone for the program for the next few seasons,” Russell wrote in an email to the San Manuel Miner.

Emily Riekofski and Rebekah Messing. Photo by Kalin Anderson-Begay

  Adrian Sierra, a junior, was the only returning boys’ runner.

  “As the season comes to a close I am very proud of the work the boys and girls team put in,” Russell said. “I am really proud of my captains this year and the leadership they showed to the younger athletes.”

  The Miners competed with several Tucson area schools, while last year they only competed against some teams at larger invitationals, such as the Desert Solstice.

  On the boys’ team, Isiah Villegas and Adrian Sierra bested the 20-minute mark at sectionals. “Everyone improved throughout the season,” Russsell said.

  Sean Strand (Jr), Jesus Diaz (So) and Alex Ruiz (Fr) are the other boys’ members.

  Others on the girls’ team included freshmen Yazmin Salas and Ashedet Ochoa, and sophomore Taya Dockum.

  “I had high hopes for the girls in sectionals, but due to some injuries (our) times were not the greatest,” Russell said.

  Russell reflected on the season after its conclusion.

  “These students have been working hard since the week of Aug. 10, and I am so proud that they stuck it out and made improvements week after week.”

Andy Luberda (975 Posts)

Andrew Luberda began writing for Copper Area News Publishers (CANP) in February 2013 after working 15 years in Healthcare Financial Management.
Andy covers sports for 11 high schools. His stories are published in Copper Basin News, San Manuel Miner and Superior Sun, in addition to the San Tan Valley Daily PRSS and CopperArea websites. Additionally, he has written human interest stories and business profiles.
In May 2012, he earned an AAS in Sports Management at Central Arizona College before graduating with a BS in Communication from Arizona State University in 2014.
He and his wife, Kelli, have three sons – AJ, Kyle, and Kade.


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