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Cowboys look to run past competition
Written by Brian Bergner   
Thursday, 08 September 2011 00:00

The cross-country program at Camp Verde High School slowly continues to crawl forward in its fourth year in existence.

The Cowboys cross-country team is ready to take on the world this fall. Camp Verde High School opened the 2011 season Wednesday, Sept. 7, in Payson.“We have the largest group out in the four years we’ve been running,” Camp Verde Head Coach Mike O’Callaghan said. “Our kids look a little stronger than last year, and they are all looking forward to the start of the season.”

Camp Verde had cross-country for years, but the program came to an end after the 1996 season. That year, Camp Verde senior Chris Duncan won a state title for the Cowboys. Duncan went on to run cross-country for Florida State University.

Camp Verde attempted to revamp the program in 2006, but Athletic Director Mark Showers had to cancel the season halfway through due to injuries and not enough participants.

This year, practice for the Cowboys began Aug. 8, giving Camp Verde just over four weeks to prepare for its first meet in the Payson Invitational on Wednesday, Sept. 7.

Camp Verde has 15 runners out for competition this fall. For the boys, top returners include seniors Brian and Johnny Hudson along with junior Cody Valencia, and sophomores Joey Benson and Ryan Malloy.

“Cody [Valencia] looks a lot stronger than he did a year ago. He could be one of our top guys this year for sure,” O’Callaghan said.

O’Callaghan added the depth for the boys will help during meets this season with Benson and Malloy challenging the older runners this season for a top position.

Top newcomers for the boys include three freshmen that O’Callaghan couldn’t stop talking about during the interview. The freshman trio include Michael Malloy, Tomas Paxton and Max Evans.

For the girls, senior Cassie Alvarez leads the way looking to improve on her stellar junior season for the Cowboys.

Sophomore Amber Yocum also returns and should pair nicely with Alvarez as a one-two punch for Camp Verde this fall.

Top newcomers for the Camp Verde girls include juniors Brittany Kelly and Brianna Rivera, along with sophomore Shelby Monroe.

“Our girls want to continue to improve, and they will work hard to do so,” O’Callaghan said.

One of the biggest notes O’Callaghan wanted to make sure to pass along is the Cowboys will host their first home meet in the last four seasons.

The Camp Verde Invitational is scheduled to take place Saturday, Oct. 1, with a set start time of 8:30 a.m.

“We need any help we can get for volunteers; just call the school if you’re interested,” O’Callaghan said.

The bigger meets this season for Camp Verde include the Four Corners Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 17, and the Yavapai County Championships on Wednesday, Oct. 19.

The Section I [Division IV] Championships are Friday, Oct. 28, at Buffalo Park in Flagstaff. The Division IV State Championships will be held at the Cave Creek Golf Course in Phoenix on Saturday, Nov. 5.


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