Above: Johnathan Estrada (Desert Vista), Raul Reyna (Mesa Mountain View), Ryan Hatch (Flagstaff)
Today we look at our fastest returning boy runners in the three-spot for their respective teams 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 third 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 three runner in 2020 may have been your number 4, 5, or 6 runner in 2019, depending on how many athletes you graduated.
Today we are focusing on the boys' third-man returning runners. We had 209 teams who have at least 3 runners who were juniors or younger last year. Teams without at least 3 runners who were juniors or younger last year did not make this list.
We are going to focus on the returning third runners who ran a PR of sub-16:40 for their teams in 2019.
Johnathan Estrada (Desert Vista): A strong sophomore runner for the Thunder in 2019. Estrada was usually the team's 5th runner in most races and ran pretty consistently in the 16-minute range for most 5K courses. His best overall finish was 4th at Desert Solstice in the Silver Division race. His best 5K time came at Nike Twilight (16:11), but also had a very strong performance at State with a 16:25 and being the Thunder's 5th runner that day. DV loses two seniors, but Coach Hanson always has the Ahwatukee boys ready for a championship run year-in-and-year-out, and with runners like Estrada 2020 should be no different.
Raul Reyna (Mesa Mountain View): As a junior in 2019, Reyna was Mountain View's number four runner for the majority of the season. Reyna was very consistent in 2019, with all his races being in the mid-16s to low-17s. Reyan's best tie came at Sectionals where he took 13th and ran 16:21. Raul's best overall finish was 8th at the Chandler Invitational in the Junior Boys' division. Mesa Mountain View was 4th overall at State in the team standings and only lose one senior, so the Toros may have an excellent chance to move up to the top three or better this season at State with runners like Reyna looking to make a mark on their senior season.
Ryan Hatch (Flagstaff): As a sophomore for the state champion Division II Flagstaff squad, Ryan was the Eagles' 6th man at State. He fluctuated between the 3rd and 6th man throughout the 2019 season. He ran consistently in the 16s and 17s for the majority of his 5K races. His best time came at the Nike Cross National Southwest Region (16:21). Ryan's best overall finish was an 8th place position at the Four Corners Invitational early in 2019, where he ran 16:38 on the three-mile course. The Eagles lost a couple of seniors from 2019, but Flagstaff is always ready for the challenge and with Mr. Hatch as their number three or better they should have a chance to repeat as state champs in 2020.
Quentin Davis (Page): This Page team we hope finds a way to run this fall because they have so many great runners returning in 2020 with Quentin being one of them. He was only a freshman last year and ran consistently in the 17s for most of the 5K courses he was on. Page won State last season with Davis taking 20th overall and was Page's 4th man. Quentin's best overall finish last season was 12th at the Ojo Rojo Invitational in the Varsity Boys' race. Davis' top time for the 2019 season was a blistering 16:35 he ran at the Nike Cross National Southwest Regional meet. Again, it would be good if Page could figure out how to have these boys run cross country in 2020.
One other runner who broke 16:40 was Charlie Fallon from Brophy who ran a season's best of 16:37 in 2019.