Print Middle school running team ranked 12th in nation
Written by Staci Gasser   
Thursday, 11 October 2012 00:00

Middle school cross-country runners in Cottonwood are winning conference championships and have Division I universities on their minds.

Girls of the Aftershock Distance cross-country club team of Cottonwood pose before running four miles for practice on Friday, Oct. 5 at Cottonwood Middle School. The team is comprised of 12 girls: five ninth-graders, five eighth-graders and two seventh-graders, who were club-level state champions last year. The team is ranked 12th in the nation and competes in high school- and junior college-level cross-country meets as open runners. The Cottonwood Middle School cross-country team competed in the conference championship the first week of October in Prescott. The girls won their fourth consecutive conference title while the boys took second, barely losing the first-place title to Prescott.

In the two-mile race, Allyson Arellano took second place with a time of 12:41.06 minutes. Cassia Gehl took seventh, Emma Williams took eighth and Brianna Epperson took ninth with times of 14:14.54, 14:23.06 and 14:24.41, respectively.

“We had to beat a very tough Prescott team to win this thing,” said Micah Swenson, six-year coach of the CMS team. “At 0.6 miles in to the race, [Prescott] was winning. It took consistency in racing, closing in on and passing some key runners to win this team title. Every other team was peaking for this race while we were looking to peak much later. They were at their best while we had just begun speed training, and we still were able to win.”

On the boys’ side, Chris D’Angelo took first place of the entire race with a time of 11:45.58. D’Angelo hasn’t lost a conference race in three years.

Andrew Salas placed seventh with a 13:18.07 time while Jon Ulibarri placed 10th with 13:39.11, followed by Anthony Rosas and Jonathan Jung at 17th and 18th, respectively, with times of 14:06.58 and 14:15.66.

“We are a stronger team than last year, and that will show as we get into these bigger meets after fall break,” Swenson said. “We need to get in great speed workouts, lots of rest and we will be ready to have some fun at these championship races.”

Swenson also coaches the Aftershock Distance Club team comprised of 12 girls: five ninth-graders, five eighth-graders and two seventh-graders, who started two and a half years ago when the girls wanted to keep competing after their school track season was over. The girls were club-level state champions last year and compete in high school- and even junior college-level cross-country meets as open runners.

“The girls almost beat junior college teams,” Swenson said. “They are ranked 12th in the nation, which is a huge, especially from the first year when we were throttled in our first meet in Phoenix. The only compliment we got was that we had nice uniforms.”

For the full story, please see the Wednesday, Oct. 10, issue of the Cottonwood Journal Extra.