When the boys team finishes second and the girls team finishes fourth in a major cross-country meet, that’s usually a pretty good day. But by the high standards of the Pahrump Valley High School program, it was a disappointing trip to the Class 3A Southern Regional Championships at Veterans Memorial Park in Boulder City.
Ditto for Beatty junior Jose Granados, who was unsatisfied with his third-place finish in the boys Class 2A/1A race.
The good news is that this past Saturday at Veterans Memorial Park, the Trojans boys team, Diamond Sonerholm, Katie Goodman and Patricia Roundy from the Trojans girls team and Granados all qualified for the state championships.
Valley edges Trojans boys
Going into the race, the plan was for Pahrump Valley’s depth to overcome Valley’s strength at the top. That was the way it worked two weeks earlier at the Sunset League championships on the same course, as Valley’s Christian Franklin won going away, but five Trojans placed in the top 13 to squeak past the Vikings.
But this time, on a day when times were slower overall, Valley had the top three runners and finished with 45 points, and that was too much for the balanced Trojans, who totaled 62, to overcome.
Jacob Cipollini led the way for Pahrump Valley, finishing ninth in 18 minutes, 26.1 seconds.
“Very,” he said when asked if he was satisfied with his race. “It was pretty hard, not as bad as it’s been in past years. There used to be a lot more sand, and they packed it down so we’d have something hard to run on.”
The senior estimated he’s run the course 10 or 11 times during his career.
“It gets easier mentally since I know where everything’s at and what the course is like,” Cipollini added.
Juniors Michael Sonerholm (11th, 18:40.8) and Grant Odegard (13th 18:59.5) were close behind, followed by freshman Seth Sonerholm (15th, 19:07.8) and junior Brandon Ruud (17th, 19:12.0).
“Seth had a good race,” Pahrump Valley coach Matt Kolodzieczyk said. “He’s been working hard and really improving these last few races.”
“It was a hard course, but I don’t feel like I did the best I could,” Sonerholm said, noting the sand was the toughest part of the course for him. “I just knew I needed to push hard on the hills and not let anyone pass me.”
Ruud said the success in the Sunset race two weeks earlier simply did not carry over on a day with temperatures in the 80s.
“It was cooler and got us a feel for the course, but I feel like today we kind of overprepared ourselves,” he said. “We had a previous taper week where we cut back on our workouts so we could let our muscles relax, and we probably ran those a little faster than we should have.”
Valley, Pahrump Valley and Somerset Academy Losee qualified as teams for Saturday’s Class 3A Championships.
Girls trio advances
The Trojans came up short in their quest to qualify for the state championships, finishing fourth with 74 points behind Boulder City (52), Moapa Valley (52) and Valley (67). Junior Diamond Sonerholm had the best finish for Pahrump Valley, tackling the course in 22:18.9 to finish fifth.
“All the hill training paid off on this course,” Sonerholm said. “It was tough, but running it a couple of times I know it a little bit better.
“I felt pretty good. I feel like I did better than last time, but it was easier to do it having that experience of running the same course.”
Senior Katie Goodman finished ninth in 23:26.0, and she also said the sand was the toughest part of the course.
“It was a tough course, but I felt pretty good out there,” she said.
By finishing among the top seven runners out of those who did not race for teams that qualified for the states, Sonerholm and Goodman advance to compete for individual honors at the Class 3A championships. Joining them will be sophomore Patricia Roundy, who placed 12th overall in 23:51.6.
Granados claims third
Two weeks after winning on the Boulder City course at the Southern divisional championships, Granados was clearly frustrated by his third-place finish, not allowing himself to use a sore leg as an excuse.
“It’s just a hamstring that’s been bothering me for maybe two weeks now,” said Granados, who ran 18:11.3 to finish behind seniors Ian Cook (17:52.4) of The Meadows and Gonzalo Sanchez (18:05.6) of Laughlin, two runners he beat out two weeks earlier.
“The course was nice, but I don’t know what happened. I felt good running the course, just …” Granados said before his voice trailed off.
He said he will do some “stretching and resting” in hopes the hamstring will improve by Saturday. But even with the injury, Granados was not satisfied with finishing third.
“Not at all,” he said. And he learned something for next time: “Don’t lead the pack.”
Kolodzieczyk knew many of his runners weren’t too pleased as well.
“We were hoping for better as a team, so I think they’re a little discouraged about that,” he said. “But we’ll get over it and start working for next week.”
The state championships will be held Saturday at Veterans Memorial Park in Boulder City. The Class 3A girls race is scheduled for 11:10 a.m., the Class 2A/1A boys will begin at 12:15 p.m., and the Class 3A boys race will begin at 1:15 p.m.