The festive atmosphere of the Desert Twilight XC Festival has become a meet favorite of most runners in Arizona. Not only do they get to dance after their races but they also get to sleep in on Saturday morning instead of getting up early to beat the heat for a long run.
But how will the Arizona teams match up?
Friday's Sweepstakes races will be the first and only time the top teams will come together with the edge going to SW#6 Corona del Sol in the boys race. The Orange Blitz of Corona have been undefeated all season and with the three top runners of AZ#1 Nate Rodriguez, AZ#2 Ryan Normand and AZ#5 Marcus Wheeler, it will be difficult, although not impossible for any team to catch them. SW#7 Rio Rancho from New Mexico has the best chance to break Corona's winning streak with top runners Abran Ramos and Troy Lawton. Don't count out the deep team of Desert Vista led by sophomore Xavier Esparza and Jacob Walimaa. Page will want to get back into the mix after their tough loss last weekend at the Doug Conley Invitational to Corona and Tuba City led by AZ#4 Anthony and Brian Masayesva.
Nate Rodriguez (Sr., Corona del Sol) finished 3rd at the Twilight Invitational in 2012 behind Bernie Montoya (Cibola/ASU) and Andy Trouard (Salpoint Catholic/NAU) and is the favorite for the individual title. Josh Hoskinson (Sr., Arizona Lutheran) was the only other junior in the top 10 and Ryan Normand (Sr., Corona del Sol) finished 15th. Both runners along with Marcus Wheeler (Jr., Corona del Sol), Anthony Masayesva (Sr., Tuba City) AZ #3 Lucky Schreiner (Sr., Campo Verde) should all be in the mix for the top five.
In the girls Sweepstakes Race it will most likely come down to SW#6 Desert Vista and SW#8 Xavier College Prep. The only match-up, between the two teams, was at the Sole Sports Invitational on Labor Day with Desert Vista breaking the 6 year winning streak of Xavier. The Xavier gators, and Twilight defending champs, have dominated girls running in past years but will definitely be challenged on the flat fast course at Toka Sticks. Front runners Dani Jones, Baylee Jones and Nicole Hicks will lead the Desert Vista team and Shelby Brown, Sierra Brown and Jane Miller will be at the helm for the Xavier team. Two weeks ago the Desert Vista Thunder finished an impressive 4th at the Woodbridge Invitational.
Shelby Brown (Sr., Xavier College Prep) finished 3rd in the race last year with younger sister Sierra (Jr.) in 5th and Dani Jones (Jr., Desert Vista) in 6th. Also vying for a top spot will be Huston Jones (Mesa Mtn. View), Ali Kallner (Jr., Chaparral), Jane Miller (So., Xavier College Prep), Lauren Ellsworth (Sr., Highland), Baylee Jones (Fr., Desert Vista) and Alexandra Schadler (Fr., Rio Rico). Dani Jones is the favorite to win the title.
Whatever the outcome - it's going to be a great night of racing!