For the past two years, the winner of the Division 4 State Championship has never been much in question. Jordan Black from North Phoenix Prep, now a freshman at Northern Arizona University competing against some of the top talent in the country, dominated the division for much of the past two seasons.
This season, the division was very much up for grabs, and for the first time since 2017, a new champion would be crowned. Leading up to the state championship, there was not much separation among the top boys in Division 4.
Junior Sammy Johnston from North Phoenix Prep led the way with the top time in the division, running a 15:58, the lone sub-16-minute performance in Division 4 this season. Junior Barney and senior Nicholas Logan from Veritas Preparatory Academy enter the state championship ranked second third, respectively, just a few seconds behind Johnston.
As close as these three athletes were, none of the three would walk away with a state championship, and instead, it was senior Richie Johnston from North Phoenix Prep, who entered the race ranked fourth, winning his first state championship and racing to his career-best in his final race, running a 16:03.80.
Barney, who will get one final chance to win a state championship next season, finished second, running a 16:15.70. Sammy Johnston finished third, running a 16:23.10, and Logan wrapped up the top four, running a 16:31.50.
Five other athletes ran to sub-17-minute performances, including junior Malakai Hanson (5th) from Northland Preparatory Academy, junior Jonah Archer (6th) from Northwest Christian, junior Shota Yabuuchi (7th) from Sedona Red Rock, senior Dana Lieb-perry (8th) from Northland Preparatory Academy, and senior Trey Janssen (9th) from Glendale Prep Academy.
It was a close race for the team championship, but Veritas Preparatory Academy, which had two racers in the top four, was able to pull out a victory to win the state championship. Veritas scored 67 to Glendale Prep Academy's 75, who placed second.
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.
12 of the top 20 finishers at this season's state championship are set to return in 2021, which should create an incredible season at the Division 4 level next year.