Salt River High School recently participated in its first-ever Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) sectional cross-country meet. Five boys and six girls competed. Two of the SRHS students qualified for the state meet, which was held Saturday, November 3 in north Phoenix.
The boys team finished in 14th place, and the top 10 teams qualified for state. The girls team finished in seventh place, and the top five teams qualified for state.
Two members of the SRHS team to qualify for state as individuals were juniors Joy Manuel and Eugene Lewis, who both had to finish in the top 25 of all runners. Manuel finished 23rd of 93 runners and Lewis finished 15th of 140 runners.
“I’m in cross-country because I do a lot of running on my own,” said Lewis.
“It’s hard at times, but my teammates and coaches push me to get better.”
This is Lewis’s first year on the team. “I joined because I love to run. [My brothers and I] do a lot of running; we run in Gila River at my grandma’s house,” said Lewis.
“My goal was to make it to state, which obviously I made it; and another goal was to help people become better runners, which I am doing right now,” he said. “I feel nervous about state, but I think I will be ready,” he said prior to the meet.
Lewis said he has been pushing himself to become faster and run longer. “I have been doing my best to make good grades and to stay out of trouble,” said Lewis.
Manuel, a member of the SRHS girls basketball team, is a newcomer to cross-country. “I just started two months ago in cross-country. I wanted to be in shape for basketball, and I thought I would try this instead of being lazy and getting out of shape during off-season.”
At the girls sectionals, the top 10 teams and the top five scoring teams that had the least scores qualified for state, “but the top 25 single runners automatically make it to state, whether your whole team makes it or not,” explained Manuel. “So I came in at 23rd. I am nervous. I am just going to try to do my best and not give up.
“I like [cross-country]. It is surprising how hard it is and how much you need to work at it,” added Manuel. “I just wanted to go at my own pace when I started. I didn’t think I would have been as good as I was. I didn’t want to make it a competition, but I did anyway.”
Manuel runs around the block several times when she’s at home. “I run at least two miles a day,” she said.