In all the years Durango cross-country athletes have been running at the Nike Cross Southwest Regional, no Demon had ever finished in the top 21 to earn an all-region honor.
On Saturday, at the Shalimar Golf Club in Tempe Arizona, two senior Durango High School runners changed that.
Land Lambert finished fourth out of 197 runners in the boys championship race in 15 minutes, 2.2 seconds. Damian Frausto crossed seventh in 15:10.5. Both earned first-team all-region honors for their efforts.
“I couldn't be prouder of what Land and Damian were able to accomplish with their first-team all-region performances,“ said DHS head coach Ken Flint. ”We've never had a first, second or third team performance at NXR, let alone being the only team to put two on the first-team squad; truly a historic day for DHS cross-country. The boys have set the bar high for others to follow.“
Before Saturday, the previous best NXR performance for the Demons was a 22nd-place finish in 2018 by Aidan Fitzgerald (15:23). The top 21 finishers make up the three all-region teams.
Lambert and Frausto both qualified to run in the Running Lane National Championships on Dec. 4 in Huntsville, Alabama. This course had 32 kids run sub-15 minutes last year, the goal for both boys, Flint said. Currently, Lambert ranks 91st with his 15:09; his 15:02 would put him 71st. Frausto is 103rd with his 15:11; his 15:10 would put him 98th.
Unfortunately, Lambert’s 15:02 can’t be counted as an official school record since it didn't happen during the high school season, which ended Oct . 30 at the state championships, Flint said.
Two Durango girls also competed in the championship race while five of their teammates won the team title in the medium school competition.
“The girls didn’t qualify as a team for the championship race, so we ran our top two runners in the championships and our next five in the medium schools category,” Flint said. “The girls won the medium school by 50 points in dominating fashion, even without our top two competing. Freshman Bryn Aggeler had the race of the day for the girls and led the team with a new PR of 18:58. Freshman Sofia Voss also PR’d in 19:09, and Freshman Dew Ilg ran strong in 19:32. A great group of girls to build with for the next several years.”
Junior Nina Quayle also placed 10th out of 136 runners in the medium-school race in 19:14 while senior Abby Fehr crossed 21st in 19:45 to seal the team victory for the Demons. Durango finished first out of 28 teams with 78 points, followed by the Pine View XC Club with 128.
In the girls championship race, senior Angela McManus crossed 62nd out of 181 runners in 18:54.
“Angela finished off her final high school XC season in fine fashion with another sub-19:00 performance,” Flint said. “She's such a solid kid and is going to flourish as a collegiate runner.”
Junior Willow Lott also ran in the championship race. She finished 101st in 19:28.
Several DHS boys also competed in the medium-school race. Sophomore Nathaniel Ellis led the Demons, placing 34th in16:37.
“Nathaniel's 34th place finish in a big-time regional race shows how far he’s come from last year,” Flint said. “This experience will help him lead the way for us next year.”
Sophomore Brodie Dorko crossed 140th in the 260-runner field in 17:58.
“Brodie's potential is scary,” Flint said. “To run a new PR by 44 seconds of 17:58 after where he started in August is truly amazing. Love his work ethic and attitude.”
Junior Joshua Yu, meanwhile, crossed 235th in 20:33.
After the successful race, the coach thanked a lot of people for helping make it possible
“Thanks to coach Ron Keller, coach Maddie Obernesser, Marie Voss-Patterson for coordinating fundraising efforts, all the businesses who donated to the cause, all the parents who coordinated travel and lodging, and the kids for their effort and commitment to train hard for three more weeks to make the NXR experience such a success!” Flint said.