(Karina Hawkins ran the fastest time of the Girls Large School Open category.-photo by John Hays)
Rising Non-Varsity Prove Steadfast At Desert Twilight
Another memorable evening of performances at the Grande Sport Complex came and went for the Desert Twilight Festival with over two hundred teams and 6,000 high school athletes in attendance. Expectations have always been high for Arizonans when competing against out-of-State schools and where better to host such an opportunity than at a preview of the NXN Southwest Regional Championship.
The Small School Boys Freshman opened the meet, with Air Academy's Ben Lumaye and Quintin Brunner going 1 and 2. Kaitlyn Cochran (Valley Christian) was the next winner in the Girls Freshman Race with a sub 21-minute performance. Highland Freshman Alec Rinsem blew the doors wide open in the Large School Boys Freshman race with a 28-second victory and a time of 17:01. In the Large School Girls Frosh race, Xavier rookie Joey Hernandez finished 1st for the Gators in a time of 21:11.2.
(Nolan Billeter wins the Boys Middle School race.-photo by John Hays)
The middle school races followed the Freshman categories, starting with the girls in which Kendall Black (Frontier) won the Middle School Girls race in 8:37.3 over Emma Francones 2nd place finish of 8:38.6. Nolan Billeter (Altadeña) held the lead in the Boys middle school race through the end to win the 1.5-mile race in 7:32.5, while Sammy Rosthenhausler took 2nd in 7:33.3.
The Open races started with the first of two Small School contests. Jarrell Singer (Chinle, Jr.) won the first in 17:49, and Geoffrey Grossthal (Valley Christian, Jr.) won the second race in 17:24. Next, in the Girls Small School Open, four Silver Creek girls were among the top-5 finishers led by Hanna Burns (Jr.) with an individual victory in 20:43.
Desert Vista Juniors Lee Nasewytewa and Travis Kearney powered through the first of the Boys Large School Open races to finish 1st and 2nd in 16:09.4 and 16:25.4 which would stand as the fastest times in the category. Then in the first Girls Large School Open races, Madeline Fleenor (Lake Braddock, Jr.) won her race in 19:43.3 and Karina Hawkins (Xavier College Preparatory, Jr.) won the 2nd race in 19:37.2. When the results were combined the Xavier non-varsity Gators held 46 points to Lake Braddock's 47.
While these races showcased non-varsity athletes, they were none-the-less committed to the pursuit of fast times and set the tone for what was to come later.