Inclement weather has become an all-too-familiar enemy of Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam high school cross-country meets this month. Monday at Simon Sanchez High School was no exception; it was closer to a swim meet than a cross-country meet as the St. John’s School Knights traveled north to take on the Sharks.

On the boggy course around Simon Sanchez High School, the Sharks were in their element, escaping with the 25-33 boys team win behind a school of six Shark runners who finished third through eighth. The defending IIAAG girls team champion Lady Knights improved to 4-0, taking the win by forfeit.

“The most important thing I’m looking at is health-wise, we need to make sure they are healthy for the big race,” said Simon Sanchez head coach Rudy Villegas, alluding to the all-island race to close out the season.

“Because this is a young team, getting them used to running in a pack … working on little things to get faster,” Villegas added.

Adam Cruz, a sophomore at St. John’s, won the boys individual with a top time of 20 minutes, 24.10 seconds, 12 seconds faster than teammate Mark Rajesh. Simon Sachez junior John Patrick Medina was third in 20:37.36, leading a pack of six Sanchez runners that included Granville Tandoc, Rico Castro, Teo Galvez, Jerald Bagain and Dru Sangueza.

This was the first top overall finish for Cruz, who led virtually wire to wire.

St. John’s head coach Desmond Mandell liked what he saw from the sophomore.

“We are getting stronger on the boys side, still a lot of work to do. Adam won today, think his first overall win, so that’s good,” expressed Mandell.

“The conditions were tough with the puddles being there. I think it was good, because it’s something different, and it puts you in a precarious position,” recognized Cruz. “All the credit to coach for helping me get faster.”

Freshman Jordan Baden of St. John’s won the girls race in 22:19.01, over three minutes faster than fellow Knight Madison Packbier, who finished second in 25:29.27. Jada Han was third in 25:31.88 as the Lady Knights swept the podium.

Baden has scorched the competition in the first month of the season, winning all four meets in her freshman campaign. The Idaho native admitted that the conditions Monday were something she has never experienced, despite posting a time three minutes faster than her closest female competitor.

“It was pretty crazy out there, and pretty disgusting. I’ve never ran through puddles like that before, it was pretty tiring,” said Baden, wiping grass and dirt from her face.

Baden told The Guam Daily Post her goal is to get her time in the low 20s by the end of the season. She will get a firm test in a much-anticipated matchup with fellow freshman speedster Shakeera Esma from St. Paul, this Thursday at Two Lovers’ Point.

The Simon Sanchez girls team fielded just four runners, one short of the required five for team competition. Freshman Britney Ann Leonen took the top time for the Sharks, wading in at 26:20.77, good enough for fourth place.

Leonen acknowledged the conditions on her home course were very tough, adding, “The water makes your shoes heavy … it was hard to run.”

In the fourth meet of the season, Leonen said she is “improving” but admits “I’m still learning.”

Simon Sanchez takes on Father Duenas/Academy of Our Lady of Guam next Monday at Father Duenas Memorial School in Mangilao. St. John’s hosts St. Paul Christian School at Two Lovers’ Point this Thursday.

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