November has arrived and that means it's time for the big show at the AIA State Championships. While everyone loves watching records fall and fast performances at the invitational meets, the goal is always to finish the season on top.
First up at 8:30 am will be the Division III boys race, where Santiago Hardy (Chinle, Sr.), Michael Barney (Saguaro, Sr.) and Vaughn Jackson (Tuba City, Sr.) will all go head to head looking pull their teams through the lowest score possible. Santiago Hardy ran the fastest time in Arizona this season with a 15:16 performance at Desert Twilight. However, a week earlier at Doug Conley, Barney outkicked Hardy over the home stretch in 14:49 to 14:53. Their teams are all evenly matched as well, with average times across their respective scoring five runners between 16:30 and 16:33. The Sand Devils from Page High School also look formidable having finished only three points behind Tuba City in their Section. The Ganado Hornets will also be part of the heavy mix of teams, led by Jalen Chee (Jr.) the 4th boy to break 16 minutes out of Division III.
(Photo by Alan Versaw)
Next up, at 9:45 am will be the Division I boys race, with the Brophy Broncos looking to capture their first State Championship in 13 years, while Desert Vista will attempt to capture their third consecutive victory. Brophy's Hociel Landa (Sr.) and Luke Mason (Sr.) ran the two fastest 5 km times for Division I in Arizona at Desert Twilight and led the Broncos to a runner-up finish in Casa Grande. Reece Donihi has returned to fitness for the Desert Vista Thunder, having won their Section at Crossroads Park last week. Earlier this season he played a crucial role in helping Desert Vista finish 4th at the Woodbridge Cross Country Classic, as one of three DV boys who broke 15 minutes for three miles. In the fight for a third place team finish are the Rincon University Rangers, the Highland Hawks, the Corona Del Sol Aztecs and the Perry Pumas all with average times between 16:16 to 16:20 across their respective 1-5 spreads.
After the intermission for the Division II and IV walkthrough, will be the Division IV boys race. The Hopi Bruins intend to extend their winning streak with a 27th State Championship Title. The Bruins have an average time of 16:58 but with only two boys under the 17-minute mark, including Diome Talaswaima (Sr.) who finished runner-up last year for the Bruins. Hoping to usurp the defending champions are Many Farms and the Pinon Eagles both with three guys each under 17 minutes for 5 km. Many Farms' no. 5 runner is faster than Pinon's, but Pinon should not be underestimated, with their nucleus of Seniors Tyrin Begay, Wesley Cook and Adriano Joe ranked 1st, 2nd and 4th in Division IV.
(Photo by John Hays)
The last race of the day will be the Division II Boys going off at 1:30 pm. The Campo Verde Coyotes are hungry for a State Championship title with an average of 16:15 across their top five runners, two being freshman. Their ace, Rylan Stubbs is only a sophomore and has already run under 16 minutes for 5 km, three times this season. Their biggest challenge will be the Buena Colts right on their heels, with Manny Olivo-Quiñones (Sr.) and Josh Sieler (Jr.) both under 16 minutes for 5 km. At Twilight Manny ran 15:20.60, the second fastest time in the State. Gila Ridge will also be contenders for a podium finish with Christian DeBoard (Jr.) ranked 4th just behind Manny, Josh, and Rylan. The Hawks will have company from the South Mountain Jaguars who beat them in Div. II Section 3 last week as well as Mesquite, and Flagstaff.
Best of luck to all those who earned their ticket. We'll see you tomorrow!