Air Academy, Palmer runners shine in early-season cross country meet

(Photo courtesy of Blue Anderson/Air Academy High School)

Air Academy freshman Bethany Michalak wasted no time introducing herself to the cross country landscape.

At this last weekend's Doherty Early Bird Open, Michalak competed in her first race as a high school runner and also grabbed her first win. She logged a time of 17 minutes, 36.24 seconds besting the rest of the field by nearly two minutes.

Her teammate, Ella Chura, finished second at 19:31.29 but by then Michalak had already caught her breath. The Kadets came away with the team win in the four-team race beginning what they hope is a very successful 2020 season.

Palmer's Adele Havlick had the best finish for the Terrors at 20:21.48. Doherty junior Kendall Windsor was the top Spartan at 21:46.6 and Coronado junior Allie Leisher was the best Cougar at 22:26.69.

But the performance of the day clearly went to Michalak. Although the course makeup will be vastly different should she run at state, her sub-18 time is faster than what the state championship time was at Norris Penrose last fall.

The boys cross country teams for these same schools were also in action over the weekend. Palmer's Scott Prieve finished first at 16:07.5.

Coronado junior Zinabu Engstrom finished second while Air Academy's Alex Maline took third. Like in the girls race it was Air Academy coming away with the top team score. The Kadets had five runners finish in the top 10.

Avery Whitesell posted the best time for Doherty at 18:32.8.

Prieve is looking for a special year of his own. He finished ninth in the Class 5A race at the state cross country meet last year. He was the second Terror across the finish line at Norris Penrose as Gus McIntyre was about 27 seconds faster.

The early-season race at Monument Valley is a long way from the atmosphere that state will provide, but the lesson from the weekend is that there are several kids setting big goals for themselves in 2020.