Above: Kevin Degroff (Mesa Mountain View), Chris Broze (Desert Vista), Shayden Begau (Page)
Fire 4th Runners
Today we look at our fastest 4th 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 4th 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 expected number four runner in 2020 may have been your number 5, 6, or 7 runner in 2019, depending on how many athletes you graduated.
Today we are focusing on the boys' fourth-man returning runners. We had 197 teams who have at least 4 runners who were juniors or younger last year. Teams without at least 4 runners who were juniors or younger last year did not make this list.
We are going to focus on the returning fourth runners who ran a PR of sub-17:00 for their teams in 2019.
Kevin Degroff (Mesa Mountain View): A junior in 2019, Keven had a PR of 16:21 (Sectionals) and ran all but one of his six cross country races in the 16-minute range. Kevin had top places of 6th (Mesa City Meet, 16:44) and 9th (Chandler Invitational - Junior Division, 17:17). Kevin was consistently Mesa Mountain View's 5th runner, but with their #1, Matt Judd, graduating, Kevin will most likely fill that 4th-runner spot for Mesa. While Mountain View loses Judd's top-5 finishing ability at state, the team may move to a more pack approach to try to replicate its team's 4th place finish at State in 2019.
Chris Broze (Desert Vista): As a junior in 2019, Broze ran times ranging from 16:33 to 18:19 on 5K cross country courses. Luckily for the Thunder, Broze's second-fastest time of the year came at an opportune moment at the Division I State Championship (16:51). Although he was the 6th man for DV that day, he was able to displace all other team's 4th and/or 5th runners but Highland and Brophy - this helped Desert Vista capture the runner-up team trophy. Broze did collect his own first place accolade by winning the Junior Boys' division race at Desert Solstice and took 11th place twice at Sectionals and the Tempe City meet. As DV reloads for another championship run, Chris Broze is an important part of that calculus.
Shayden Begay (Page): Only a freshman in 2019, Shayden ran primarily in the mid to high 17s for 5K with the exception of a PR of 16:39 at Nike Twilight. Shayden was Page's 6th runner for most of the season and had a top place for himself of 14th at the Ojo Rojo Invitational in the Varsity's boys race. He placed 71st at State as Page's sixth runner and was the team's sixth man to help them clinch the State title. Page with the help of Shayden will be looking once again to be on top of Division III in boys' cross country in 2020.
Noah Czajkowski (Red Mountain): Noah had a great sophomore season for Red Mountain. He ran his second-best time of the season at State (16:49), where he placed 38th overall and was Red Mountain's number three runner that autumn day in November. Noah had a first-place finish in the JV race at the Mesa City Meet and took 25th overall at Sectionals where he was his team's 4th runner, but basically came in together with runners two and three (16:43.02 - 16:43.91 was the three boys' time spread). Red Mountain only loses one from their top five, so the Mountain Lions may have some roaring to do in this year's state meet.