Top 5 girls from left; Jessica Tonn, Sarah Fakler, Christen Collins, Sarah Schmidt and Kylee Kieser.
The George Young cross country course at the Sanctuary Golf Course is a tough course with its rolling hills (not to mention HOT) but this year it became even tougher as the course grew from a 3.0 mile course to a 3.1 mile course with an extra set of hills. The new course did not bother Xavier Prep senior Jessica Tonn who looked forward to the challenge. "I was really excited about the extra hills," said a very relax Tonn after the race. "It mixes it up and gives you a chance to strategize the race."
Casa Grande junior, Kylee Kieser, passed Tonn on the first hill. "I just stayed relaxed and focused on my race," said Tonn. Kieser stayed ahead of Tonn for a short while but at the mile mark Jessica Tonn set her pace on cruise control and moved ahead of the pack. By the 2 mile mark Tonn had a considerable lead on the group and finished a minute and 18 seconds (18:01.1) ahead of 2nd place runner and teammate freshman Sarah Fakler (19:19.4).
Mesa Mountain View Sophomore Brianna Decker was having a phenomenal race and was in second place with a few meters to go when she collapsed short of the finish line. Decker's will to finish the race was more powerful than how bad she really felt as she crawled over the finish line placing 7th in 20:02:07.
The George Young Invitational win today was Tonn's 4th. As a freshman she edged out Mountain Ridge junior Nadya Bishton by one second; won by 25 seconds her sophomore year; by 16 seconds her junior year and 1 minute and 18 seconds today.
Both Xavier Prep girls looked very strong as they helped to lead their team to a first place finish. Xavier (pictured above) collected 46 points by placing runners in 1st (Tonn), 2nd (Fakler), 12th (Daylee Burr, Jr.), 16th (Katie Penney, Jr.) and 21st (Breanna Perrone, SO).
The Highland girls team (pictured below) led by two freshman took home the second place team trophy. The highland girls earned 97 points by placing runners in 5th (Ashley Hatch, Fr.), 7th (Kristy Rush, Fr.), 18th (Tori Haberman (So), 27th (Stephanie Helland, Sr) and 38th (Brooke Wood, Jr).
Top 5 boys from left; Jorge Martinez, Eric Zuza, Tyler Bingham, Alexis Chucatte and Garrett Baker-Slama
On the boys side Jorge Martinez (Alhambra) repeated his win from last year. The junior hung back for most of the race letting Mesa Mountain View senior Tyler Bingham take the lead with Camelback junior Eric Zuza. Coming up from the golf course into the final 200 meters Martinez had a strong lead as Zuza sprinted to catch him. Martinez won in 16:19.9 with Zuza in second with 16:20.6. Bingham fought for third place as Alexis Chucatte (Jr., Cesar Chavez) tried to pass him. Bingham finished in 16:29.2 and Chucatte placed 4th in 16:29.9.
Martinez led his Alhambra team to a win with 86 points placing runners in 1st (Martinez), 12th (Max Talamantes, So), 14th (Ignacio Villalba, Jr), 16th (George Ramirez, Jr) and 28th (Sergio Sanchez, Jr).
The second place team trophy went to Mesa Mountain View with 107 points placing runners in 3rd (Bingham), 11th (Blake Cowan, Jr), 15th (Ben Williams, Sr), 17th (Spencer Frame, Sr) and 36th (RJ Massey, So).
In the boys Open race Jon Lemaire (Jr., Mesa Mountain View) won the event in 17:58.4. Mesa Mountain View placed 5 runners in the top 6.
Three juniors from Xavier Prep took the first three places in the girls Open race; Christian Andreen (21:18.9), Catherine Fakler (22:05.5) and Sarah Roessler (22:13.2)
Alhambra boys team (pictured below) with the first place trophy!
Second place team - Mesa Mountain View
One of the most touching moments happened at the finish of the girls open race. With a lone Pinnacle runner left on the course, the entire Pinnacle team gathered at the top of the path where the runners come up from the golf course to the final 200 meters. They waited and watched for their teammate. Everyone else had left the area and were back at the finish line or with their teammates. Fifteen to twenty minutes later the Pinnacle runner made her way up the path and came into site to the cheers of her teammates. The team ran along side her, encouraging her all the way to the finish. As this lone runner approached the finish line the entire Highland team joined in and then a domino effect took place as the entire place broke into cheers.
It was a wonderful moment and a great reminder of why I love this sport!!! Way to go Pinnacle High School Cross Country Team!!