Led by their lightweights, the Coconino Panthers opened the wrestling season with a pair of victories Tuesday at Mohave, topping the host 47-35 and edging Willow Canyon 39-33.
Hitting the mats at 106 pounds, Pedro Billups, coming off a stellar freshman season, recorded two of Coconino's total 12 pins on the day. Haiden Kendall, competing at 113 pounds, also ended his day with two falls.
Meanwhile, the Flagstaff Eagles went 0-3 at Higley Tuesday while taking on teams from a higher division. A Division III team along with Coconino, Flagstaff fell to D-II programs Higley, 49-30, Ironwood, 54-28, and Poston Butte, 48-30. The middleweights for Flagstaff made a statement, as Easten Skinner, Andre Ryan and Zachary Collins each came away from the multi dual with 2-1 record and two pins apiece.
It took Billups two minutes and 23 seconds to take care of his D-III Mohave opponent, and needed less than a minute to manage his D-III Willow Canyon challenger. Kendall clocked his falls at 3:36 and 1:38. Coconino's Jaden Hart won his 120-pound match against his Willow Canyon opponent in 2:56, and moved up to 126 to take on his Mohave opponent, who won by technical fall at 5:33.
Brandon Barreras and Phillip Flores both collected two victories by pin for Coconino, with Marcello Barreras going 2-0 courtesy of a pin and a tight 6-5 decision. Wrestling at 145 pounds, Talyn Godwin went 2-0 on a decision and a technical fall, Marc Aruguete added a decision victory at 220 pounds, and Panthers heavyweight Tiberone Clarke, in his only match of the day, needed just 51 seconds to pin his Mohave foe. Patyon Polder went 1-1 as well as Jaden Hart.
Skinner, Ryan and Collins all fared well against Higley. Competing at 132 pounds, Skinner's day was highlighted by a 39-second pin against Higley, while Ryan's (138 pounds) came at 1:22 and Collins (145) finished at 3:12. Locking horns at 120 pounds, Flagstaff's Spencer Johnson went 2-1 with two pins to follow suit. Sam Black went 2-1 courtesy of a mid decision and a win by forfeit, and Jakob Woods tallied a pin on the day.
The newly formed family/youth running club, Flagstaff ROAM (Runners On a Mission), made their debut at the Arizona State Championships Cross Country Championships in Phoenix on Nov. 11.
The team continued it’s competition schedule on Nov. 18 in El Paso, Texas, where the USATF Regional Cross County Championships took place. The team had 34 runners representing the club. These were the 34 runners that had previously qualified from the state championships.
The Flagstaff ROAM girls were victorious in the 15- through 18-year-old team division, winning with a low score of 19 points. Woodlyn Smith won the 15-16 age group, Hope Saxton placed second, followed by Sayti Plank (11th) and Nikki White (12th). Povi Plank was first in the 17-18 division, with Angel Curley in second, Kyra Ball third, and Megan Holm fourth.
The 15-18 boys group took second place, losing to the Glendale Flash team by one point, 27-28. The boys team was led by junior Nate Milton, followed by Micah Stanton, Alan Hagerman, Jon Ulibari, and Nathaniel Sullivan.
Placing this high in the region meet bodes well for the teams that now move on the USATF National Cross Country Meet.
Individual qualifiers are those who place in the top 30 in their respective age groups. The 13- through 14-year-old individuals who advance to the national meet are Malakai Hanson, Mitchell Jacobson, and Ryan Hatch the on boys’ side, and Wheaten Smith and Breanna Biggambler on the girls’ side. In the 11-12 age division, it was Wayland Namingha, Mairead Kelly, and Morning Rain Honani that advanced to the national meet. In the 9-10 year category, Tyler Troxler, Wylan Smith, and Camree Lane will represent Flagstaff.
ROAM head coach Gary Plank said that he was proud of the performances of all the runners, whether they qualified to the national meet or not.
“It is very difficult to advance to nationals from our region," he said. "In many of these age groups, we have one of the strongest regional meets in the country. Colorado, Texas, and New Mexico are considered to be very strong states on the national level. So to be able to compete with them is impressive.”
The National USATF Junior Olympics meet will be take place on Dec. 9 in Tallahassee, Florida.