Fastest 7th Runners Returning in 2020 - Girls

Above: Bailee Christofis (Desert Vista), Naomi Young (Xavier), Hailey Prey (Sunrise Mountain)

Each Runner Has Their Job To Do - Runners 1 thru 7

Yesterday we focused on the boys' top xc returners who are their team's most likely number-7 runner in 2020 based off of 2019 times and the number of seniors who have graduated from their teams.

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 four runner needs to break into the top-40, or your number five runner has to beat your rival's number 3 and 4 runners in order for you to make the podium; no matter what the breakdown is any knowledgable coach or runner knows her role before even stepping on the course.

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.  Lastly, this runner may be higher in actuality on your team's depth chart, but again we are simply basing this off of best times on 5K cross country courses in 2019. 

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 girls' number 7 returning runners. We had 113 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 returning teams' #7 runners who ran 21:30 or faster in 2019.

Bailee Christofis (Desert Vista): Bailee actually ran the #5 position on the high powered Thunder squad at State, which helped them win the Division 1 state title in 2019. She was the #7 runner in the Nike Twilight Sweepstakes race for the Thunder. She ran anywhere from 19-21 minutes on 5K courses and even dropped below 19-minutes on the fast 3-mile Woodbridge Cross Country Classic course in California. It's always hard to predict at Desert Vista who will be their top 7 because they have so many talented athletes each season, but Bailee seems to be a pivotal cog in that success for sure.

Naomi Young (Xavier Prep): Ran as a freshman for Xavier and never ran any race slower than 21:33 (Nike Cross Nationals SW Regional) last fall. Her best time of the year was 20:47 at Nike Twilight but also ran 21:23 and 19:49 for 3 miles at Mt. SAC and Woodbridge Cross Country Classic, respectively.

Haley Prey (Sunrise Mountain): As a junior in 2019, Haley ran a personal best of 21:01.40 on the Nike Twilight course. She ran consistently between 21-low to 22-mid for all her 5K cross country races last season.  In fairness to Haley, she was the #6 runner at State for Sunrise in 2019 and #4 runner for Sunrise at State as a freshman in 2017. But, again, we are simply basing her running order here on the best returning xc times on her team, which puts her in the 7th position.

Tara Funk (Mesa Mountain View): Tara ran her second xc season for Mesa Mountain View as a junior. She was the #7 runner for Mesa at State in 2019, which helped the team capture 8th place in the team scoring. Tara ran her best time at sectionals (21:11) and ran very consistently 21s and 22s all season long. 

Other runners who ran 21:30 or faster in the 2019 season were Parker Yazzie-Umberger from Perry (21:26) and Makennah Mitchell of Flagstaff (21:30).