Oree Foster
Staff Writer, AZPreps365.com

Page Sand Devils seeking 5th team title in a row

November 8, 2018 by Oree Foster, AZPreps365

For the past four years, the Page Sand Devils have dominated Division III boy's cross-country.

Page won four straight state championships under former head coach MacArthur Lane. Lane stepped aside, handing the head coaching reins to Tim Martin, a former Page and Northern Arizona University cross-country/track standout.

Under the guidance of first-year head coach Martin, it seems as if Page's program did not skip a beat. Throughout the regular cross-country season. Page has dominated.

During last Friday's Division III, Section IV cross-country championships at Hidden Cove Golf Course in Holbrook, Page nearly recorded a perfect score. The Sand Devils chalked up an impressive 17 points, well ahead of runner-up Prescott Badgers with 86 points and third place Tuba City Warriors with 108 points.

The Sand Devils, a traditional cross-country power from the 3A North Region, is a favorite to add its fifth straight state championship at Cave Creek Golf Course in Phoenix.

Martin said Page's regular season has gone well, as the Sand Devils' runners continue to improve during each race.

"Our regular season went well," Martin said. "The boys improved quickly, seeing success from the first race at Monument Valley in Kayenta. The only setback was Bowen Martin's (team's top runner) hip injury. But other teammates stepped up in Bowen's absence. The key was training through all races. We didn't ease off for any meets, except the Nike Desert Twilight Cross-Country Festival at Casa Grande. So the runners raced mainly with heavy legs, learned to endure and push through races. Also, just basically building a good base from increasing mileage creates success in the latter parts of races towards the end of the year."

Martin said it will take a team effort to win the state championship.

"We have most of the team peaking at state and a few others timing a peak at the Nike Southwest," he said. "For the most part they will be rested and ready on November 10. Ready to do something special. They are excited to do what no Page teams has never done, take the streak to five in a row. Should be a fun day."

Martin continued, "To win the state championship, the team just needs to run like they have all season. We have a deep team, so if one has a bad day, two more will respond and run better. It's a great group of kids to work with."

Martin said the competition will be strong at the state meet.

"I think Tuba City will be up there," Martin said. "I am not sure about any Valley teams. It seems like the (Navajo) Rez teams always show up at state and make a great race."

Page dominated the Division III, Section IV meet when the Sand Devils' five scoring runners finished in the top 10 positions and the team's sixth and seventh runners completed the race in eighth and ninth places.

Senior Bowen Martin covered the 5K race in 16:12 for individual championship honors. Sand Devil teammate Morgan Fowler was the runner-up with a 16:14 time, followed in third by freshman Lance Harris, turning in a 16:43. Sophomore Trent Holiday was clocked in 16:56 for fifth. Rounding out team scoring was senior Kaipo Uejo in sixth place. Non scoring runners were sophomore Rex Martin in eighth place, posting a 17:06 and junior Skyler Sandoval in ninth place, clocking a 17:10.

Martin said he is proud of his runners. He said the runners raced hard. "The runners feed off each other," he said. "They talk and encourage each other. That's why they are so tough. One slows down, another steps up. I don't think we have had the same five runners score in the same order all year. Like Lance (Harris), our freshman, popped a PR out of nowhere at Sectionals. This is great because fitness-wise, he should be our fifth man. He ran third for us. It will definitely be interesting to see how they end up at state."

Martin said the Sand Devils are preparing for the state meet.

"The seven runners are the crew going for five in a row," Martin explained. "We are basically injury-free. Bowen (Martin) had a little (injury) issue, but manageable. Like all runners, they have little tight area and stuffy noses. They will be ready when the time comes to show their fitness and what the program is all about."

En route to capturing the Division III, Section IV team championship, Martin said the Sand Devils ran well.

"Again, the key was training through the race," Martin said. "We didn't taper any training. In fact, most did an eight to nine mile run the day before the race. So strength is really starting to show just how fit the group is going into the state finals."

Martin added, "Another aspect was we told the kids to just see what you can do on tired legs. Have fun with it. They did judt that. They wanted to see how they could score. So we were very happy with the results. The girls' goal was to get close to winning, because now they know they have a shot at a state title. Ten points is nothing with a little rest now. We are very excited going into the finals."

Martin said he was proud of Bowen Martin and Morgan Fowler, the Sand Devils' top two harriers during their first and second place finishes respectively at the Division III, Section IV meet.

"We called Bowen's (Martin) race a rust-buster, because it was his first race in a month," he said. "It went Ok. He had a few issues with his injury and body. So it was about an 85 percent effort. He had very high mileage week with Morgan (Fowler). So both were running a little dead legged. With a little luck and planning, both Bowen and Morgan will be toeing the line at 100 percent at state."

Schools competing in all divisions will battle the temperature at race time. Martin said he is preparing his team to battle the temperature.

"We have the kids hydrate well and tell them that everyone has to deal with the temperature," he said. "It's no big deal. We focus on the runners' race plan and things they have control over."