The Beatty High School cross country team tripled in size this year, as junior Alfonso Sandoval and sophomore Jovan Oseguera joined senior Jose Granados to run for the Hornets this season.
Sandoval and Oseguera got their first taste of cross country competition Saturday at Palo Verde High School’s annual Labor Day Classic, and it was quite the eye-opener.
“I did OK, I guess,” said Oseguera, who competed in the 400-, 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter races for the Hornets during track and field season. “It was hard.”
“It was a lot harder than I expected,” Sandoval agreed. “The first 2 miles I was on a really comfortable pace, and when the third mile hit I kind of hit a wall and slowed down.”
Sandoval finished in the top half of the junior-senior race, finishing the 3.1-mile course in 21 minutes, 23.5 seconds. Oseguera ran 24:17.2 in the freshman-sophomore race.
Both newcomers said they wanted to run cross country to get better at running, with Sandoval competing in the 1,600, 3,200, 4 x 800 and 300 hurdles for the Hornets. He also had a second reason for coming out for cross country.
“I like running with people,” Sandoval said. “They’re just fun people to run with. It’s better to run with someone than by yourself. Last year it was just Jose, and I wanted to join him.”
For his part, Granados, whose first cross country meet was last year’s Labor Day Classic, finished 11th in the junior-senior race in 17:45.0. And while every runner who finished ahead of him comes from a larger school, Granados was typically dissatisfied.
“Not that great, but there are things to improve now,” Granados said. “It’s a solid time, I felt pretty good, but there are things to work on.”
He took the same attitude last year, and running the course previously was of some help.
“Take the hills faster,” Granados said was the lesson learned from his first race. “It’s called Heartbreak Hill, and then there’s another one coming up before you turn toward the stretch.”
The course at Palo Verde includes a trip around the backstop of the Panthers’ baseball field, a straightaway along a sidewalk and a grassy stretch run. It’s a course much to the liking of Pahrump Valley senior Grant Odegard, who again was the top runner for the Trojans.
Odegard finished 14th in the junior-senior race, completing the course in 17:51.3. Half of the 10 Trojans in the race finished in the bottom 20, but seniors Renaldo Flores (20:37.6) and Brandon Ruud (20:51.7) also finished in the top 100.
“Overall, I think we did OK,” Pahrump Valley coach Erik Odegard said. “For some of the kids it was their first 5K, so they really weren’t sure what to expect, and it’s hot out here.”
But if the heat and the course were new experiences for many of the runners, those Trojans who ran last week had a chance to put their first lessons of the season into practice.
“I felt like our finishes were better today,” Erik Odegard said. “Most of them were picking kids off toward the end, and we worked on that during the week. So they kind of listened.
“I also think we had good starts today, and that’s important. There were more than 200 runners (in the boys junior-senior race), and they funnel into that gate. A strong start is important, and all the kids did that today. Some of them fell off the pace a little bit, but we’re pretty new to this for a lot of these kids.”
Odegard is excited by the future for his younger runners, especially freshmen Vincent Martinez and Ulises Sotelo.
“I was impressed with how some of the kids did,” Odegard said. “Ulises, this was his first race, and he did a pretty good job. Hopefully, he and Vincent move up together a little bit.”
Their first chance to do that will be in the Larry Burgess-Las Vegas Invitational on Saturday in Sunset Park in Las Vegas.
“I’m excited to see what happens with Vincent and Ulises next week when we all run together,” Odegard said. “They’ll be in that varsity race and they’ll run with the bigger kids and kind of get an idea that way. I think that will pace them a little bit better. I think that helped Renaldo (Flores) today, to run with Grant and be where he and Brandon (Ruud) were.”
Flores, another senior new to cross country, was the Trojans’ No. 2 runner Saturday, finishing in 20:37.6, not far ahead of Ruud’s 20:51.7.
For Pahrump Valley’s girls, senior Nrsringa Breathwaite and junior newcomer Juliana Hemphill finished just six seconds apart, with Breathwaite coming in one place ahead of Hemphill with her time of 28:15.6.
Three sophomores ran in the freshman-sophomore race: Hillary Valencia Vidales (28:36.2), Beverly Roundy (29:10.4) and Stephanie Frias-Esparza (33:14.9).
“We had some girls today who weren’t here last week,” Odegard said. “We’re getting there.”
In any event, the meet brings out a lot of schools each year and is a good experience for the newcomers, Odegard said.
“Now they know what a 5K is,” he said.