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The Sedona Red Rock High School girls cross-country team, led by junior Natalie Cox, finished third at the Division IV, Section I meet Saturday, Nov. 2, in Holbrook, meaning that the entire girls team will compete at the state cross-country meet this Saturday, Nov. 9, in Mesa.

Freshman Luke Doerner runs in the pack near the start of the Yavapai County Championships in Prescott earlier this season.The Scorpions boys team finished seventh at Holbrook, but the top three boys — Travis Okie, Luke Doerner and Kevin Alvarez — all finished in the top 25, so they will be running at state as well.

“We missed going by 17 points, which really isn’t that much, especially in a race like that,” said Scorpions cross-country coach John Ortiz. “We kind of were expecting it, but we were hoping for a little miracle.”

Okie, who is the boys team’s only senior, finished in 17th place while Doerner, who is just a freshman, finished in 22nd place and Alvarez, a junior, finished in 24th place.

Ortiz said he was told that Section I is the toughest section in the state and he has now seen it first-hand.

“Coach [Jim] Bostwick of Mingus said ‘Hey, welcome to Section I,’” Ortiz said. “He said ‘Your team could probably go to the valley and win one of those sections.’”

Ortiz said that the course at Holbrook is one of the toughest in the state, and across the board runners were clocking times that were more than a minute slower than their best times.

“So I was looking at it and I think there’s quite a bit of elevation gain,” he said. “There’s three long, gradual upgrades, and that kind of takes the wind out of your sails.”

Okie said that running in the state meet as a senior was something he’d dreamed about since his freshman year. His goal is to make it into the top seven so he could be named to the All-State first team.

“I’m happy with how the season has gone so far, and I just want to end it nicely,” he said. “I feel like I’m ready to run my best race at this point, so it’s just a matter of getting my head right and doing it.”

Alvarez said this season has gone by far too fast, and he hasn’t really been happy with the way it’s gone either.

“Coach just said to me earlier ‘Just go out there and give it your all; don’t hold back. It’s the state meet and you’ve worked hard the whole season, and even if you haven’t had a great one, you can always end it well.’

“So I’m really looking forward to it and I’m going to do everything I can to get ready.”

For the full story, please see the Wednesday, Nov. 6, issue of the Sedona Red Rock News.

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