CASA GRANDE, Ariz. — The Mean Moose Harriers went south to the Nike XC Southwest Regionals in Casa Grande Arizona on November 23rd.
The Southwest Regional is considered the toughest region of the Nike Cross Country competition out of the seven other regions in the United States. The top 2 teams in the regions qualify for the national meet in Oregon. The Mean Moose took a small contingency but a powerful one, of five lady moose runners and five boys. When the Moose arrived in the Phoenix airport the weather was a near-perfect 65 degrees and after taking the short drive down to Casa Grande the team was greeted by a downpour of rain that came down for nearly an hour. The rain would two days later translate to cooler weather for the Mean Moose and produce fast times over the 5k course in Casa Grande.
This is the first time the Mean Moose would field a complete girls and boys team at the NXR (Nike Cross Country Region) event. But before the ladies and men raced in their respected divisions, at 8 a.m. the coaches/citizen race blasted off the starting line.
Coach De La Cerda represented the Moose with a time of 17:45 for the 5k course good enough for the 48-year-old to get 53rd overall out of 268 runners and 6th in the 40-49 age division. Next were the Lady Moose who were entered in the small school division that consisted of schools ranging from 1-1000 students throughout the southwest region hailing from Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado.
Taking off at a blazing pace were the five Lady Moose, Alliyah Molina, Abby Wubben, Autumn McQuitty, Annahi Molina and Regan Zook. Alliyah Molina, a senior, was the first to come across the line in a season-best 20:31 for the 3.1-mile course, good enough for 57th overall out of 195 runners. Next was freshman Abby Wubben who also set a personal best for the 5k course, hitting the tape in 21:01, good enough for 77th place. The next Moose finisher was freshman Autumn McQuitty who scorched the course in 21:20 for a huge personal best and finishing in 90th place. Trailing not far behind was Annahi Molina also a freshman, in 110th in a personal best 21:48. Rounding out the Mean Moose scorers was Regan Zook another freshman, placing 157th and a nearly two-minute improvement in a time of 23:32.
The girls’ team was 13th out of 20 teams, with 297 pts, pretty remarkable considering only having one senior and the rest freshman. With the momentum of the ladies blazing the course it was now the men’s turn.
They surely did not disappoint. Also going out with blazing speed in the first mile in 5 minutes was junior Josh Medina, cracking the sub 16 club and crossing the line in 15:49, good enough for 4th place out of 317 runners. Next to blaze across the line was senior Josh Lopez also in a personal best of 16:12 finishing in 20th place, concluding his high school cross country career. Isaac Higareda, only a freshman, was the next Mean Moose to cross the line in a huge personal best of 17:26, in 125th place and with that time puts him top 30 freshman times in all of Colorado. Next was another freshman, Izaiah Casanova, who also ran insanely quick, with a personal best by over a minute and crossing the line in 17:49 for 161st. place. Rounding out the team was sophomore Gradie Gardner crossing the line in 19:01 good enough for 245th place.
So the Mean Moose left the Desert of Arizona blazing and making their mark for the Alamosa Mean Moose Nation. Thanks go out to the parents who helped make the trip a success.