Above: Jacob Cardon (Desert Vista), Elijah Davis (Red Mountain), Hunter Jensen (Page)
Every Point Counts - Runners 1 thru 7
It would be nice if when you had a stud #1 runner and he crushed the field that you would get bonus points deducted from your team's overall cross country score but as we all know that's not the case. No matter how fast your #1 runner is, he can't get any less than 1 point for your team.
What is so great about cross country is that everyone needs to do their job in order for your team to win or place where you believe you should. Maybe your number three runner needs to break into the top-30, or your number six runner has to beat your rival's number 4 and 5 runners in order for you to take the title; no matter what the calculus is any coach or runner worth his salt knows his role before even stepping onto the starting line.
For the next week or so, we are going to break down the returning top-7 runners from each team and rank them. Some caveats, obviously incoming freshmen can throw a wrench into these rankings, but we don't have high school times for these teens yet, so they are left out. Two, these rankings are based off these athletes' best cross country 5K times in 2019. We understand that different courses lend themselves to faster times than other courses, but this is just to give us a rough estimate on how the team's runners 1-7 rank against other teams' 1-7. The key here is we are talking about returning runners and not who was your 7th runner in 2019. After we account for seniors graduating, we are making an educated guess who will be your number 1-7 runners in 2020. So your number 7 runner in 2020 may have been your number 9, 10, or 11 runner in 2019, depending on how many kids you graduated.
Today we are focusing on the boys' number 7 returning runners. We had 149 teams who have at least 7 runners who were juniors or younger last year. Teams who don't have at least 7 runners who were juniors or younger last year won't make this list.
We are going to focus on the returning 7th runners who ran 17:30 or faster for their teams in 2019.
Jacob Cardon (Desert Vista): A junior in 2019, ran for the state runner-up Thunder. He broke 17-minutes for the three-mile distance at Mt. SAC and Woodbridge Cross Country Classic (both in California) and, like many Arizona cross country runners, had his 5K PR on the Nike Desert Twilight course (16:56.90).
Elijah Davis (Red Mountain): Ran as a freshman for Red Mountain and broke 18-minutes in all but two races last fall. Best time of the year was 17:12 at Nike Twilight but also broke 18 at Doug Conley and Fountain Hills. We may seem even great drops in times as he enters his sophomore year in 2020.
Kaden Gilliland (Highland High): We spotlighted Kaden in our article on July 12th on most improved xc boys. He broke 18 both at Doug Conley (17:18) and Nike Twilight (17:19). Kaden will be a junior in 2020 and so we should be looking for 16-minute type times this coming autumn.
Hunter Jensen (Page): Hunter ran mostly in the 18's last fall, but popped a 17:23 at the Nike Cross Nationals Southwest Regional meet. He ran mostly 19-20 minute 5Ks in 2018, so he is moving in the right direction going into his junior year.
Tomorrow we will have our rankings for our 7th runners in the girls' division.