As the dust settled from the morning races at the AIA state cross country meet in Phoenix, the Division II boys prepared to run their final race of the season for a state title.
Flagstaff, entered the race with five consecutive titles, and were a favorite to repeat as champions. While the Eagles did, in fact, manage to claim the title, Campo Verde High School’s cross-country program also represented on the podium thanks to senior Kenny Edwards.
“It’s really exciting for us and for him,” said Josh Applebach, one of Campo Verde’s cross-country coaches. “He hasn’t always run his best in the past at this race but for him to come in and do what he wanted to do, we are really proud of him.”
Edwards managed to position himself to make a move near the finish line with one last push in the last 20 meters to pull ahead of Deer Valley’s Randy Espinoza.
Edwards took first and claimed the individual title with a time of 15 minutes, 58.8 seconds, just three seconds ahead of Espinoza.
“I was coming over the hill and just thought, ‘if I win this kick, I’m a state champion,’” Edwards said. “I’m not letting anything go. It feels amazing.”
Edwards’ win follows in the footsteps of former Campo Verde runners Lucky Schreiner and Rylan Stubbs, who were both decorated runners for the Coyotes.
Stubbs, who signed to run for Grand Canyon University, helped Campo Verde claim a Division II championship in the spring on the track. Edwards was part of the 4x800-meter relay team with Stubbs that won the title last year.
“It just feels good to win it like they did,” Edwards said. “Those two are like Gods to me.”
Edwards’ win helped Campo Verde finish fourth overall in the state meet. Zac Whaley, Mitchell Jones, Mac Jones, Anthony Cox, Wil Hanson and Nate McMullen also ran for Campo Verde at the state meet.
This year marked the fourth consecutive season Campo Verde finished in the top five at the state meet.
“Kenny had his best day today and it was fun to watch,” Applebach said. “He ran brave, he ran from the front and he represented our team really well today.”