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The Sedona Red Rock High boys cross country team finished 11th at state, while the girls team finished 16th at the Cave Creek Golf Course, in Phoenix, on Saturday, Nov. 4.
By Nick Ruland
Larson Newspapers

The Sedona Red Rock High boys cross country team finished 11th at state, while the girls team finished 16th at the Cave Creek Golf Course, in Phoenix, on Saturday, Nov. 4.

The cross country program, in only its second year of existence, learned valuable lessons at the meet.

“I learned, as a coach, if we want to do well there, we have to change how we do things,” Head Coach Joe Fuss said.

Namely, getting out of the gate.

Sedona runners were surprised by the majority of other runners’ game plans to start out fast, making it difficult for SRRHS to come back from the behind the pack.

Sedona runners came into the meet with a race plan to pace themselves. It didn’t work.

“State is a different animal. They get out so fast I got boxed in,” senior runner Glenn Sapp said.

Sapp, unable to pass the tens of runners who jump-started him, was unable to find his pace. His time of 17:39.6 was good for 25th but more than a minute off his best race time.

“I wanted to be top 10. But I kind of lost my motivation once they pulled away from me,” Sapp said.

The rest of the Sedona runners encountered the same problems. Freshman standout Jesus Rivera finished 28th with a 17:45.75, Chris Lloyd ran a 19:15, Garret Debbs with a 20:26.25 and Jovany Guevera 20:33.45.

On the girls’ side, Beatrice Sapienza was 67th out of more than 100 runners with a 24:46.4, Lydia Mosley 25:21.1, Katy Potter 25:27.2, Sophia Zeno 26:36.15, Iveth Guevera 26:47.85 and Rita Clancy 27:24.75.

“We are still learning team stuff,” Sapienza said.

The state meet differs from other meets because there are many more runners and teams develop rosterwide game plans for success.

Lesson learned.

“It is hard to adapt to that [fast start]. Most of the time when we race, we can go out in a certain pace and not have trouble pacing people like that. At state, there are so many people caught in a pack, it is much more difficult,” Fuss said.

Though the state race may have been a harsh reality check for Sedona, it does not temper the team’s overall season             success.

Finishing second and third in the regional meet was a large jump for a program in only its second year and with only 11 runners.

“They realized that they can be good. They put in a lot of work and made huge progress in two-and-a-half, three months,” Fuss said.

Sedona will lose its best runner, Sapp, to graduation but will keep a core of young runners on both the girls and boys’ sides, who will help to continue to establish SRRHS as a viable cross country program.

“They are changing what our definition of ‘good’ is. What started out ‘good’ was doing well in regionals, get to state and compete. Our good race times were six-minute mile pace for the boys, girls under seven-and-a-half-minute pace. We are going to start changing that to boys five and a half minutes or faster and girls six-and-a-half- to seven-minute pace. That’s what we will start shooting for it, no set limitations from the beggining,” Fuss said.

The key to cutting 30 or more seconds off normal pace will be the offseason work ethic.

“We have to have a base mileage so that we can do workouts instead of get in shape [at the beginning of the season],” Fuss said

“We are building a tradition of success” Fuss said.

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