Highlights - Queen Creek Twilight Invitational

Varsity Boys Race at the 2nd Annual Queen Creek Invitational One hundred and fifty two freshman boys and girls started, the first of five races, at 5:50 PM with Highland having a runner in the top spot in both the boys and girls races.  Manuel Aquilar had a clear lead from the start of the race and crossed the finish line in 17:20.1, eighteen seconds faster than second place runner Hayden Palmer from Prescott.  Katherine Dai edged out teammate Michele Bowen for the win in 20:55.4.  Desert Vista boys won the team title as did the Highland girls.

In the open race Torri Papp, a junior from Corona del Sol, won in 20:42.6 with six Mesa Mountain View runners on her heels.  On the boys side Ryan Nelson led five of his teammates to the finish line, taking the win in 17:02.2.  The girls from Mesa Mountain View won the team title with 20 points and the Desert Vista boys swept the open event with 15 points.
The varsity boys race got out to a quick start with the lead runners in a tight pack until the half mile mark.  As the group began to separate, Sherod Hardt (Jr, Queen Creek, pictured right), took the lead at the mile and held it.  Hardt cross the finish line 13 seconds ahead of second place runner Jose Luis Munoz (Jr, Rio Rico) in a time of 15:30.6.  "I felt great, a lot better than I did last week," said Hardt after the race. Video Interview
Aeoleone Bristow (So, Rio Rico) took a similar approach in the girls varsity race.  Normally Bristow tends to run to the front of the pack at the start of the race and tries to stay with the lead group, however, she tested a different strategy during tonights race and it worked for her.  Moving into the lead late in the race Bristow cruised in for an easy victory winning the race in 18:35.9 over second place runner Ann Bawden (Sr, Highland, 18:50.4).  "It's nice running at night," said a smiling Bristow, "It felt like track running with the lights.......it felt faster." Video Interview
With the memory of last weeks difficult Doug Conley finish fresh in her mind, freshman Taylor de Laveaga (Perry) ran to a solid third place finish in 18:57.7.  Last week at the Doug Conley Invite, dehydrated and confused, de Laveaga stopped at the first mat thinking it was the finish line.  "Last week I kind of hit a wall, I was tired and disoriented and I didn't know where the finish line was so today I went and looked at it and figured out where it was before my race," said a happy de Laveaga. Video Interview
After the races the runners enoyed the festival like atmosphere as they lined up to buy everything from hamburgers to gelato.  A runner from Pinnacle was heard saying, "I LOVE THIS MEET!
"I think the event went very well and there are things we can improve on like painting the start line a color that shows up in the dark.....maybe a glow in the dark paint," said meet director, Ellie Hardt.  "We are fortunate to host such a great event.  We wouldn't be able to do it without the sponsorship of DJ Jones from the Toka Sticks Golf Club."
Mesa Mountain View girls won the team title with 101 points over Corona del Sol (122) and Saguaro (124).   Rio Rico boys took first in the team event with 53 points over Shadow Mountain (78) and Mesa Mountain View (111).