This weekend, we'll see the second set of races go down around the State of Arizona. Already we've gotten an idea of how fit our top competitors are and we hope to see that improve through the season. This Saturday, we have two meets in the valley drawing a ton of competition for some major action to go down. Have a look at our previews for just four of this weekend's meets to watch.
Fountain Hills Invitational (Fountain Hills)
Fountain Hills is consistently one of the biggest invitationals of the season, and this year 66 schools will assemble at Fountain Park for six races. The course offers some rolling hills along the north side of the park and is mostly flat for the majority of the two-lap race.
Braedon Palmer is coming off a strong showing at Desert Solstice, where he ran just under 16-minutes. Meanwhile, Hunter Krasa ventured to Buffalo Park for the Peaks Invitational where he finished runner-up at 7,000 ft elevation. According to last year's rankings, Palmer and Krasa are ranked as the no. 2 and 3 returners for 5km in the State. We're also interested to watch the top boys in Division IV, Jordan Black and Adam Whitehead contend against Palmer and Krasa.
In addition to seeking the individual victory, Palmer will intend to spearhead the Sunrise Mountain Mustangs to victory. Perry and Skyline are two Division 1 teams also projected to do very well but could get a run for their money from North Phoenix Prep.
On the girls' side, Grace Tipton won the varsity race last year representing Cactus Shadows. While she will return to Fountain Park tomorrow morning representing the North Phoenix Prep Gladiators, she will likely have a hard time defending her title as Fountain Hills Champ considering she's still coming back from an injury. Following a runner-up finish at Peaks, Tiaree Towler looks poised to take the victory at Fountain Hills. Towler finished 4th place in the D1 Girls' race at the State Meet last year, and will look to make a big statement as one of the top girls in Arizona.
Meanwhile Red Mountain, will vie for the team title against the Perry Pumas and the Skyline Coyotes as a few of the top ranked girls' teams in the east valley.
Ojo Rojo Invitational (Chandler)
Ojo Rojo will be the next biggest meet of the weekend with many teams returning to Tumbleweed Park for the second week in a row. Ayden Shilb and Kenny Edwards should make the varsity races interesting along with the Casteel Colts and the Page Sand Devils who aim to have their top guys finish among the top fifteen places.
On the girls' side, there are several girls who ran sub-elite performances through much of the 2018 season but are prepared to toe the starting line with the intent to clock in some breakthrough performances. Last fall, Zoey Delgado and Brynna McQuillen finished third and fourth in the D3 Girls' race at the AIA State Championships, and then Grace Driskill won two state titles in distance races this past spring.
The Salpointe Catholic Lancers have begun their 2019 season with the intention to secure their third State Title in four years. They'll have to contend with Chandler Wolves on their home turf. Having graduated four seniors, the Chandler girls are working on a rebuilding year but we're interested in watching them develop a talented underclass.