Sectional meet proves too much for Bulldogs

KINGMAN - Kingman High cross country coach Anne Bathauer knew coming into Saturday's sectional meet in Phoenix that it was going to a tough task for the Bulldogs to qualify for the state meet.

KHS needed to place in the top eight of 16 teams in order to qualify as a team, or have individuals place in the top 25 in order for them to qualify.

Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, neither happened, marking the first time in 18 years that there won't be a Kingman High athlete running at the state cross country meet this weekend.

"This is one of our fastest groups we've had and to see the disappointment on their faces, it was tough to take because it was hard," Bathauer said.

Both teams finished 13th, with the boys having a score of 328, while the girls had a score of 354.

KHS's top girls runner, Paige Cardiff, was running in fourth and was 15 steps away from finish line when she collapsed and didn't finish the race. Meanwhile, KHS top boys runner, David Haun, was hobbling with an ankle injury he suffered during practice last week and finished 81st with a time of 19:21.

"The teams were outstanding and we are going to do what we need to do to get in the top teams next year," Bathauer said. "I can't be disappointed in my kids when they run personal bests. How can you be disappointed when they get their best times in the season."

KHS moved up from Division II to Division I this year and therefore compete with the bigger schools in the state, which means faster times and tougher competition.

Mesa Mountain View's Dallin Gherkins finished first with a time of 16:15. In order to crack the top 25 on the boys side, a runner has to run a 17:20. The closest Bulldog to qualify was Patrick Webb, who finished 45th with a time of 17:49.

Meanwhile on the girls side, Phoenix Xavier's Breanna Perone was the top finisher with a time of 19:13. To place in the top 25, a runner has to run a 21:09.

At the time of her collapse, Cardiff was running in the 20 minute range and would've qualified for state.

"All these schools that are ahead of us have a larger population and we will be back next year and stronger than ever," Bathauer said. "This is a strong group of kids, and if we were to compare it to last year, we would've been one of those teams. We would've gone to state in Division II, but we're not Division II, we're Division I and we have to compete like we are Division I. As a coach, that is what (the) goal will be next year."

Bathauer will be losing three seniors including Louis DeLavara, David Haun and Heather Paulsteiner, but will return with a core group from both squads.

DeLavara finished 63rd (18:27) while Paulsteiner placed 84th (24:29). Sophomore Amanda Williams was the highest placer for the KHS girls team, placing 38th with a time of 21:51 and sophomore Olivia Anderson placed 68th (23:04). Other girls finishers were: sophomore Alexis Bathauer, 86th, (24:35); sophomore Rachel Fondren, 90th, (25:13); sophomore Haley Moore, 101st, (25:58).

"The great thing is that all these girls are going to be coming back, and we have to use this moment as a teaching moment," Bathauer said. "They don't want to feel like this again next year."

In addition to sophomore Webb returning to the boys team, junior Ethan Swenson (67th, 18:31); junior Shaun Wooten (72nd, 18:44); junior Preston Hammond, (90th, 19:31); and freshman Tanner Cardiff (98th, 20:09) will also be returning.

"What do we have to do to make it to the state meet next year? That's what we are going to focus on next year," Bathauer said. "That is what I will focus on next year with training because our kids will be running over the summer. You have to run over the summer."