North’s Abdihamid Nur, Sierra Vista Buena’s Manuel Olivo-Quinones Win Boys’ Cross- Country State Championships
Story written by Jessie Vanderson
One ran in the evaporating cool of mid-morning; one ran in the infant heat of early afternoon.
One ran with a lead pack hot on his heels for over three miles; one ran as if he had an early Thanksgiving dinner waiting for him only yards beyond the finish, and left the competition eating his dust. One brought a big race north from the border area of southern Arizona; one brought a sensational race from just across town to the high ground of the 19th Avenue pocket.
Both ran the race of their young lives on a gorgeous day in early November when a fall sun floated across a sky nearly swept clear of clouds, when a breath of wind could not be found if you filed a missing person’s reporter with the FBI, and the only thing that mattered was who had the strongest legs, the biggest lungs and a fearless heart that beat off ungodly fatigue for 3.1 miles as if exhaustion was a boxer that climbed through the ring ropes with thunder in one glove and lightning in the other one.
One brought a state championships to a region that has one of the state’s greatest traditions in high school cross county; one brought a state championship and heartfelt pride to a school district where the sport has lingered near the endangered species list for most of the last two decades.
Phoenix North senior Abdihamid Nur and Sierra Vista Buena senior Manuel ‘Manny’ Olivo-Quinones teamed to make history at the 2016 Arizona High School Cross Country State Championships Saturday at Cave Creek Golf Course on Phoenix’s far northwest side. Nur bolted from a lead pack of several runners 50 yards into the race’s famed Valley-Of-Glory home stretch, and held on in a furious surge of runners through the final 100 yards to win the Division I individual boys’ state championship with a time 15 minutes 49 seconds.
“It feels good to win this for my school and my team, ” said Nur, a Somali emigrate who has only began running two years ago. “I was dedicated and it paid off.”
Olivo-Quinones put the pedal-to-the-metal in the first mile and turned the Division II boys’ state championship race over three hours later into a catch-me-if-you contest that saw him roar up out of the legs killing ‘Fish Bowl Basin’ at the end of the two mile mark, and hit the race’s legendary Billy Orman Turn highballing to the individual state title unchallenged with a clocking of 15:41.
“My plan was to surge up and down the hills,” said Olivi-Quinones, whose family is from Puerto Rico. “There not a secret to this. I just worked hard. My whole team worked hard.”
Buena, the top boys’ team in SoZona this fall, finished third in the team standings with 146 points. Gilbert Campo Verde finished second (86) while Flagstaff High, which placed five runners in the top 25, repeated as team champs with 65 points.
Phoenix South Mountain, which received an impressive fifth-place finish (16:33) from emerging sophomore Gustavo Arias Ramos, a 20th-place finish from junior Bryan Aceves (17:06) and a 38th-place effort from sophomore Jesus Samaniego (17:28), finished fourth (170). The Phoenix Carl Hayden boys, once state power, finished 12th (420). Falcon sophomore Fidel De Los Rios led the with his 41st-place effort (17:31).
“He (Olivo-Quinones) would have won this race last year, but we were in Division I,” Buena coach Roger Bristow. “He is a quiet kid and a good leader who works hard. He is clearly the best kid in Div. II.”
Olivo-Quinones finished sixth (16:11.0) at the Div.I state championship race last year. Desert View senior DJ Harris won that race with a clocking of (15:50.3).
Nur, who emerged as one of the state top runners after failing to advance to the state championships a year ago, and a standout field turned the Div.1 race this year into a rare short sprint as anyone of several runners was in striking distance of winning the contest after covering nearly three miles. Nur had the most gas left in his tank, and manage to sprint through the races’ final yards with a small lead. Phoenix Brophy runners Luke Mason (15:51) and Hociel Landa (15:51) finished second and third respectively. Desert View junior Habtamu Cheney raced to fourth (15:54). Junior Aron Orar of Phoenix Central claimed fifth (15:59).
North received a 64-plce finish (17:39) from senior Michael Coyle and 91st place effort (18:04) from junior Daniel Valles. Mustang junior David Chacon raced to 119 (18:43) while his senior teammate Alfonso Ruiz got across the finish line in 145-place (19:59). Junior Alejandro Mendez finished 132 (19:13) to help the Mustangs capture 17th-place (407) in the team standings. Desert Vista as boys’ team champs with 57 points. Brophy finished second (70) while Tempe Corona Del Sol claimed third (116).