While there may not be as much excitement for which girls' team will win State in Division I compared to the boys' race. We are going to try to put forward our educated guess on which teams will land one thru six in Division I on Thursday at Crossroads Park.
1st - Desert Vista
Don't be surprised if Desert Vista's girl goes 1-2-3 at the finish line at State this year - that's just how good these girls are. Lauren Ping (defending State Champion), Katie Sigerud, and Grace Ping (Runner-up at State in 2019) all could go sub-18 at Crossroads this Thursday, and in our opinion take State quite convincingly barring any unforeseen circumstances. And don't sleep on runners four thru six for the Thunder either because they should be sub-20 at Crossroads as well.
2nd - Perry
Other than freshman Sara Jones (Perry's number two runner), The Pumas are a veteran team looking to make some noise this Thursday. Lead by junior Taylor Lovell the Pumas could put potentially 2-3 girls in the top-10 individually. Perry has roughly a 90-second spread from one thru five, based on times at Crossroads this season with their four and five runners clocking over the 20-minute mark. We do have them slightly edging out Xavier, but it could be a toss-up depending on how each teams' runners three thru seven finish.
3rd - Xavier
Jamie Stelnik will lead the Gators this week at State with a deep group of girls behind her. Ansley Burns didn't run sectionals and we are not sure if she is out for State due to injury, but runners like Hannah Wheeling, Macarthy Mahoney, and Tatum Goforth will be a formidable bunch nonetheless. We think it will be very close between Xavier and Perry for that runner-up award, but we feel Perry's top three will better Xavier's top three, and that will make the difference in team scoring.
4th - Hamilton
The reason we have Hamilton ahead of Highland and Chandler is simply Rujuta Sane, Hamilton's number one runner. Rujuta was 4th at State last year and she might land that same spot this year against an even more competitive field. Because we don't see Rujuta getting any worse than 5th or 6th, this drops Hamilton's score a good bit versus Highland and Chandler. And if Hamilton's number two runner, Anna Haralson, can top Highland's and Chandler's number one runners, then that could be just enough room to eek out a 4th place team finish for the Huskies.
5th - Highland
We don't like to bet against Coach Monty's teams, but according to the times this year, the Hawks sit anywhere between 4th and 6th overall in the team scoring. Like their boys, the Lady Hawks are a young group this season, made up of mostly sophomores. Emma Baugh and Kayla Case, Highland's one-two combo will need to put themselves in the top 10 to 15 individually to try to move in the team scoring. If Case and Baugh can have a good race on Thursday they could definitely help the Hawks move up to 4th. And while the top runners on these three teams (Hamilton, Highland, and Chandler) are important, runners three thru seven may end up being the reason why or why not the teams land where they do in overall scoring.
6th - Chandler
As previously stated, it will be very close, in our opinion, on teams four thru six. Chandler may lose out to Hamilton and Highland due to not having one more speedster on their squad. Sophia Hackett will lead the Wolves, with hopefully a low-19 time or faster, but the rest of their girls are in the 20-minute to 21-minute range, and not having that one other runner who can crack 20-minutes we think is going to be the difference-maker. Freshman phenom, Sophia Noriega was seen in crutches at sectionals last week, which would lead us to think she is injured and out for the State meet. She has not raced since September 25th. If she is able to compete then who knows what could happen, but for now we will leave Chandler in our number six spot.