It took 13 years to get back on top of the podium and Desert Vista did it with the youngest group of runners in the history of distance running in the state or Arizona.
Junior Danielle (Dani) Jones (photo left) led 4 freshmen, a sophomore and a senior to the Arizona State Title.
"I am so unbelievably proud of my team right now," said a beaming Jones after the race. "The little experience that our girls have - more than half of them are freshman - I would have never been able to do what they did as a freshman."
Jones finished the 5K hilly course in 18:00.80 for the win. "This course is meant to break you in the first mile so we all were told to go out conservatively," said Jones. "I think we went 6:11 - 5:44."
Jones tucked herself behind Xavier runner Lauren Kinzle (Jr) through the first half of the race with younger sister Baylee Jones (Fr, photo right) close behind. But at the half way point Dani and Baylee made a move to separate from the pack.
"Once we got to that mile and a half we really kicked it in and got it done," said Baylee after the race."
Baylee is looking forward to the next 3 1/2 years she will be at Desert Vista. "We got what we wanted to do and I knew we would get it done," she continued. "So I am proud."
The rest of the team ran together in a group before sprinting to the finish.
Madi Bucci (Fr, photo left) was the next Desert Vista runner to cross the finish line with a 17th place finish and a time of 19:22.77.
"I had a really good race," said Bucci. "I'm really glad that we ran together as a pack in the front half of the race. It was really encouraging to have everyone there.
Following Bucci was freshman Amanda (Mandi) Davis (photo right) with a 17th place finish and a time of 19:29.88.
"The last 800 meters we knew we had to go." said Davis about the team finish.
Two places back in 23rd was yet another freshman, Sabrina Camino (photo below right), who finished in 19:34.46. "The race was really fun," said the very jubilant Camino. "It was really nice going out really conservatively in the beginning and being able to kick at the end and then like pushing it as hard as i could. It was really fun running in a pack with my best friends."
Senior Nicole Hicks (photo below left) had been running as the number three runner all season but on Saturday the day played out differently. "It was definitely not my best race," said Hicks. "It just wasn't there for me today but I got to run with the girls I love. It's a bittersweet ending to my senior year."
Likewise Emily Smith (photo bottom left) did not have her best race either but she still managed to finish 31st with a time of 19:53.68. "The first mile felt great but at the mile and a half my legs didn't feel so good," Smith recounts. "I'm especially proud of my team - they did amazing and I'm glad they pushed really hard today."
Desert Vista finished with 60 points to Xavier College Prep's 70 points breaking Xavier's six year State Title streak. Junior Sierra Brown had the top finish (10th) for Xavier with a time of 19:14.84. Lauren Kinzle (Jr) who led for much of the race, finished 13th with a 19:19.87 followed by 15th place finisher Samantha Mattice (Sr., 19:22.66), 18th place Jane Miller (So., 19:22.79) and 19th place finisher Shelby Brown (Sr., 19:28.71). Junior Shannon Molvin (19:50.99) and freshman Sarah Carter (19:53.05) rounded out the top 7 finishing 28th and 29th.
Desert Vista 1st year coach Jeff Messer summed it up well. "This day is quite simply a tribute to the courage and the resolve of these young ladies. Lets be honest, there are a lot of people probably standing on this golf course who didn't think we could get it done and these 7 girls proved otherwise because they are relentless, because they do believe, because they don't back off and because they trust and they do it the right way in every way. It's not possible for me to be any prouder of them than I am right now and I have been proud every day this season - no more so than this day."
Junior Lauren Ellsworth (Highland) finished 3rd with a time of 18:33.92 followed by a 4th place finish by Kelly Naumann (Jr., Corona del Sol) in 18:49.42. Huston Jones (Sr., Mesa Mt. View) rounded out the top five with a time of 18:53.85.