Saguaro senior Ethan Rodriguez-Story (Photo: David Allison)
Leading up to the Division 3 boys State Championship, there was no clear cut favorite to win the event. A pack of four boys separated themselves from the field, however, making it abundantly clear that the four of them stood the best chance of winning a state title.
As the season began in September, senior Aiden McCarter from Prescott emerged as the top runner in the division, running a 15:21.34 and coasting to a 48-second victory at the Western Equinox XC Festival. Senior Ethan Rodriguez-Story from Saguaro, a week before McCarter's performance, catapulted his name in the rankings, running a 15:26.20 at the Chandler Invitational.
Defending state champion Roshan Tinoco-Miranda, a senior from Rio Rico, made his season debut at the Desert Twilight XC Festival on October 1st, finishing 7th and running a 15:23, assuring the competition that he was coming back for his state championship.
At the time, those were the three fastest times in Division 3, but they would not be for long. Three weeks following the Desert Twilight XC Festival Gilbert Olivas Jr., a senior from Cactus, would run the fastest time of the season for a Division 3 boy. Having already run a 15:33.6 at the Desert Twilight XC Festival, Olivas cemented himself as a threat to Tinoco-Miranda's attempt to win back to back state championship at the PUSD Cross Country Championships, running a 15:20, defeating some of the state's top runners.
The season came to a head at the Arizona State Championships where Tinoco-Miranda would run away from the field and win his second straight cross country state championship, running a 15:32.40. Olivas finished in second behind Tinoco-Miranda, running a 15:47.20.
Trent Holiday (3rd) from Page, Abraham Valenzuela (4th) from Palo Verde High Magnet School, Rex Martin (5th) from Page, Johnathon Lane (6th), and Pierce Vittone (8th) from Walden Grove all capped off impressive senior seasons finishing inside the top 10.
The team championship was a tight race, but in the end, it was Salpointe Catholic who came out on top to win the 2020 state championship, scoring 57 points. Snowflake finished second scoring 68 and Page finished third scoring 80.
Tinoco-Miranda represented Arizona and Division 3 at the national level, competing at the XC Town USA Meet of Champions in Terre Haute, Indiana. The race was run on the Lavern Gibson Championship XC Course, which plays host to NXR Midwest and occasionally the NCAA Division 1 Cross Country National Championships. Tinoco-Miranda finished 26th in a star-studded event, running a 15:53.40 on a difficult course and in tough conditions.
With a majority of this season's top runners from Division 3 moving on from high school, 2021 is sure to present new challengers and fresh competition for the top spot in the state.