Above: Connor Donihi (Desert Vista), Gavyn Begay (Page), Mark Anderson (Mesa Mountain View)
5th Runner Phenoms
Today we look at our fastest 5th returning boy runners in the state of Arizona.
Some caveats on how we come up with these rankings; 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 on 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 of 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 5th 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 five runner in 2020 may have been your number 6, 7, or 8 runner in 2019, depending on how many athletes you graduated.
Today we are focusing on the boys' fifth-man returning runners. We had 191 teams who have at least 5 runners who were juniors or younger last year. Teams without at least 5 runners who were juniors or younger last year did not make this list.
We are going to focus on the returning fifth runners who ran a PR of sub-17:10 for their teams in 2019.
Connor Donihi (Desert Vista): A junior in 2019, Connor had a PR of 16:38 at the Nike Cross Nationals Southwest Regional race. He was 13th overall at Sections (team's 3rd-man that day) with a 17:02 finish. Connor's top placement for the season was at Desert Solstice where he took 5th overall in the Silver Division with a time of 17:20. As mentioned in the previous rundowns here on MileSplit AZ, Desert Vista is always stacked and in the hunt to win state, and Connor Donihi will be vying for one of those top-7 spots in his senior year this fall.
Gavyn Begay (Page): This young man was only a freshman last year and still made Page's state championship squad last November. He had a best of 16:45 at Nike Twilight and took 24th at Sectionals with a 17:40 at Hidden Cove. Gavyn jumped around from the 6th and 7th position on Page's team in most races in 2019. The Sand Devils have a strong tradition in cross country and Gavyn will be one of the young men who will try to continue the championship mentality in 2020.
Mark Anderson (Mesa Mountain View): As a sophomore in 2019, Mark was extremely consistent in his times no matter what the course. He only had a 34-second spread from his fastest time (16:50) to his slowest time (17:24) on 5K cross country courses. His top place was 10th at the Chandler Invitational in the Sophomore Division and for most of the season was Mountain View's sixth man, primarily. Although Mountain View loses it's top runner, they will still be looking to improve on their 4th place team finish at State last autumn.
Cade Woolf (Red Mountain): Other than his PR of 16:58 at Nike Twilight, Cade ran in the 17s all season long. He was Red Mountain's 6th man most of the season with other top times of 17:13 (Sectionals) and 17:23 (Doug Conley). His best placement in a race last year was 17th at the Chandler Invitational in the Junior Division. The Mountain Lions lost two from their top seven from last year, but with runners like Cade, they will be poised to try to better their team placement from their 6th place finish in 2019.