From left: Gabriel Gonzales, Jorge Gonzalez, Jesus Lujan, Daniel Lopez, David Veioz and Francisco Espinoza of Pueblo's boys cross-country team. Photo courtesy of Pueblo High School.

Photo courtesy of Pueblo High School

Pueblo’s boys cross-country team is heading into Saturday’s state-qualifying sectional meet at Marana with a lot of confidence.

The Warriors are unbeaten in dual meets for the second consecutive year and, on Saturday, will try to accomplish what they couldn’t last year: beat Division III powerhouse and favorite Rio Rico.

First-year coach Armando Gonzales – who took over after long-time Pueblo skipper Rafael Ortega retired following last season – believes his young team has the talent to overtake the Hawks on Saturday.

“We can beat Rio Rico,” Gonzales said. “It’s not going to be easy because they are definitely a top team but we are right there with them this year.

“We are on their tail and we have a strong chance of winning.”

Last year, Rio Rico beat the warriors 42-60 in the sectional meet lead by a dominating performance by Carlos Villarreal, The Star’s 2015 runner of the year.

Pueblo will be looking for some retribution for the loss and Gonzales believes his team feels more confident heading into the meet on Saturday. The Warriors turned in solid performances against Rio Rico earlier in the year at invitationals in Flagstaff and Casa Grande; they were unbeaten in mid-week meets.

“Having an undefeated season has been one of the dreams for all of us runners since we were in middle school,” said Pueblo sophomore David Veloz.

Veloz said the race on Saturday could come down to the fifth man and ultimately will be decided on “who wants it more, them or us?”

“Last year was a tough loss,” Veloz said. “I like our chances this year because we are more united as a team and our times are closer together and we’re faster.”

Gonzales said a win on Saturday would be a big achievement for his young team that is made up by a mix of talented juniors and sophomores. It would also give them a lot of momentum heading into the state championship meet next week in Phoenix.

“I’m proud of this team for how they have stepped up and responded to the challenges that we gave them at the beginning of the year,” Gonzales said. “This team will set the standard for future teams at Pueblo.”


CROSS-COUNTRY POSTSEASON SCHEDULE

BOYS

Division I

Sectional: Friday, Oct. 30, 1:20 p.m., Crossroads Park in Gilbert

State: Saturday, Nov. 7, 9:20 a.m., Cave Creek Golf Course in Phoenix

Division II

Sectional: Saturday, Oct. 31, 11:15 a.m., Marana

State: Saturday, Nov. 7, 1:05 p.m., Cave Creek Golf Course in Phoenix

Division III

Sectional: Saturday, Oct. 31, 9:45 a.m., Marana

State: Saturday, Nov. 7, 12:40 p.m., Cave Creek Golf Course in Phoenix

Division IV

Sectional: Saturday, Oct. 31, 8:15 a.m., Marana

State: Saturday, Nov. 7, 8:55 a.m., Cave Creek Golf Course in Phoenix

GIRLS

Division I

Sectional: Friday, Oct. 30, 1:55 p.m., Crossroads Park in Gilbert

State: Saturday, Nov. 7, 8:30 a.m., Cave Creek Golf Course in Phoenix

Division II

Sectional: Saturday, Oct. 31, noon, Marana

State: Saturday, Nov. 7, 12:15 p.m., Cave Creek Golf Course in Phoenix

Division III

Sectional: Saturday, Oct. 31, 10:30 a.m., Marana

State: Saturday, Nov. 7, 1:30 p.m., Cave Creek Golf Course in Phoenix

Division IV

Sectional: Saturday, Oct. 31, 9 a.m., Marana

State: Saturday, Nov. 7, 9:45 a.m., Cave Creek Golf Course in Phoenix