Roa, Cooper prevail at Ojo Rojo Invitational

September 25, 2010 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

After winning his race Saturday morning, McClintock's Eduardo Roa just kept running.

After winning her race Saturday morning, Ironwood Ridge's Lauren Cooper took a seat.

Both were impressive in taking individual titles at the annual Ojo Rojo Cross Country Invitational at Tumbleweed Park in Chandler.

On the team front, it was a double-win for Mesa Mountain View as the Toros beat out Corona del Sol in boys and girls competition. The boys' team race was close with Mountain View totaling 83 to Corona's 92. The Toros girls had an easier time finishing with 46 compared to Corona's 119. Hamilton's girls finished third (121). Skyline's boys were third (143). Twenty-five teams competed in the boys race.

Roa, a junior, improved from his finish two weeks ago on the same course and outran a tight pack of four others to win. Racing against strictly juniors at the Chandler Invitational, Roa was second by a whisker with a time of 16 minutes, 32 seconds at Chandler. His time of 16:01 Saturday bested four others who finished within eight seconds of Roa (Canyon del Oro's Daniel Wong, Maricopa's Chris Lessard, Mesa Mountain View's Blake Cowan and Skyline's Fermin Villagran). Lessard edged out Roa for the top spot at the Chandler Invitational.

Roa disappeared almost as quickly as he ran his face, heading to Mesa Community College to attend an extra class beyond his high school studies.

For Cooper, it was an extra special day. It was her first major meet victory. She placed second three weeks ago at the Sue Fletcher Invitational in Sierra Vista among an eight-team field of southern Arizona schools. Her triumph Saturday came against 16 teams. Cooper pulled away in the stretch from Mesa Mountain View's Brianna Decker to win by nine seconds. Cooper's time over the 3.1-mile course was 19:01. She took a seat in a portable chair after winning, then changed shoes and caught her breath. She looked ready to run another race five minutes after her triumph.

"Last year I think I finished sixth here," Cooper said. "My plan was to stay in the lead or with the leaders. I was pretty much neck-and-neck with someone in red (Mountain View's Decker) almost to the end.

"It was hot, but I felt strong. I trained hard  and it helped this week."

Mesa Mountain View coach Kris Alexander was hoping to see Brophy and Desert Vista's girls at the meet. Brophy rested its top runners and Desert Vista entered its top runners in a meet out of state. Still, Alexander was satisfied with winning both sides of the meet on the heels of finishing second in both genders last week at the George Young Invitational hosted by Brophy.

"This is a stepping stone to getting where we want to be," Alexander said. "We got our work in......"This was by no means an A race for us. I'd say it was a B or B-. Today we did what we were capable of."

Decker's second-place finish matched her effort last week at George Young. Finishing third was Perry's Taylor DeLaVega, who won the junior race on the same course  two weeks ago.