Morenci's Kayla O'Connell holds a narrow lead on the Division 4 1600 field.
As we continue to tour the events with an eye toward how the team races will be shaping up at state, today's stop looks at the girls distance events, the 1600 and 3200. We'll take the usual look at how things are developing in each division. As has become our practice, we'll start with Division 4.
In the smallest schools, many of the top distance runners are not year-round distance runners. They may, for example, play basketball in the winter. As such, we expect to see more movement between now and state, both in terms of time and in terms of ranking, with the smaller-school distance runners.
Leading both the 1600 and 3200 rankings--if you count the Sundown Series meets--is Grace Tipton of North Phoenix Prep. Presumably, she runs in school colors one of these days and qualifies for state, but that hasn't happened yet.
Rankings going forward in this section of the article will ignore Sundown Series performances.
In terms of a team staking out an early lead in the standings, however, look no further than Phoenix Country Day. PCD currently has the #2, 3, and 10 ranked runners in the 1600 in Kimi Cahoon, Anna Sabol, and Ella Brenes. Cahoon and Jenna Powell show up at #1 and #6 in the 3200 rankings. That's a lot of distance depth for a small school. Presumably, even, PCD starts filling in the rankings in both events as the girls get more opportunity to race both distances.
So, while some changes are anticipated, that's the scope of teams making a move to be major players at state in the Division 4 distance events. None of us is going to be great surprised if these rankings change a bit in the next few months, but it's difficult to report on what hasn't happened yet.
Kylie Wild of Salpointe Catholic leads the Division 3 1600 rankings at 5:09. It's a healthy lead on the field. Presumably, she runs the 3200 sometime soon, but that hasn't happened yet. When it does, though, her 1600 time suggests she will go straight to the top of the 3200 rankings as well.
Two other Salpointe Catholic girls are hovering near a position in the rankings that could turn into state meet points in another month. Those are Alex Montano in the 1600 and Maria Fernanda Ruiz de Chavez in the 3200. Salpointe Catholic will, one way or the other, be a very strong player at the state meet.
But, Salpointe Catholic will have at least one rival for distance points. That rival comes in the form of ALA Queen's Creek (hereafter ALAQC). ALAQC has Evelynne Carr at #2 in the 1600 and currently #1 in the 3200 at 11:45. 11:45 doesn't figure to stay at the top of the 3200, but Carr is definitely a contender even so. Also representing ALAQC are Tayla Workman (#9 in the 1600 and #5 in the 3200) and Ashley Brewer (#4 in the 3200).
Mingus Union appears not to have the depth of either Salpointe Catholic or ALAQC, but they do have Makena Bliss. Bliss is currently ranked #4 in the 1600 and #2 in the 3200. Bliss should figure for points in May.
Ryley Nelson of Gilbert Christian currently ranks #3 in the 1600. To date, Nelson appears to prefer the 800/1600 path to the 1600/3200 path, but if she ever does start dabbling in the 3200, there appear to be points for Nelson's taking.
And, as your sleeper team of the week, consider Arizona College Prep. Eryca Fawkes is #6 in the 3200, while teammate Elizabeth Nakai is #10. Neither has yet run a 1600, suggesting one or both of the pair could make in incursion into the 1600 rankings when the opportunity arises.
Sunrise Mountain is one well-placed team in the derby for state meet distance points. Currently, that's mostly--but not entirely--the doing of Kaitlyn Kaye. Kaye leads the 1600 field at 5:15 and checks in at #4 in the 3200 field at 11:53. Her 1600 time suggests there's a lot more to come in the 3200. Also representing Sunrise Mountain is Madelyn Palmer at #10 in the 3200 rankings.
Slightly better, though similarly, positioned at this time is Casteel. Casteel owes most of their early standing to Jadyn Herron-Jonap, #2 in the 1600 and #1 in the 3200 at 11:37. Sydnee Elliott joins Herron-Jonap in the 3200 rankings at #9.
And that brings up the topic of Flagstaff. You know, the team that won state cross country in something of a runaway. Flag evidently hasn't pulled back all the curtains yet. What they have pulled back, though, shows Brooke Golightly at #7 in the 1600, Katrina Vollmer at #10 in the 1600, and Golightly at #3 in the 3200. Don't be surprised if you see more from Flagstaff sometime soon.
It's not difficult to look at Division 2 and see a whole lot of possibilities for how the state meet points break out. We will learn much over the scope of the next month.
The QC True Grit Invitational on March 26 was the place to be if you wanted to get your name on the Division 1 3200 meter leaderboard. Excluding the Desert Vista duo of Lauren Ping and Katie Sigerud, whose place in the rankings is held by Sundown Series times, the top five times in the 3200 rankings came from the QC True Grit. That would include Kylie Miller (Perry), Emma Baugh (Highland), Sara Jones (Perry), Kayla Case (Highland), and Marina Dear (Highland). You may have noticed a couple of recurring themes with respect to teams there. In any case, it's not entirely unexpected to find the top of the 3200 rankings dominated by DV, Highland, and Perry.
Presumably, Ping and Sigerud (and possibly Grace Ping, as well) eventually step onto the track in navy and gold to run a 3200. And, for that matter, a 1600 as well. Currently, they've only shown up in the AIA season in an 800.
In any case, the fivesome of Miller, Baugh, Jones, Case, and Dear all show up in the top eight of the 1600 as well. Add in an appearance by Perry's Taylor Lovell and #4 in the 1600, and you have a strong case for a Perry-vs.-Highland showdown at state for all the big points in the distance events.
But. we still have to leave some room in the equation for Desert Vista...
Right now, there aren't many cases to be made for other schools breaking up the party. Currently, the two best cases on the table are Ava Potts of Chandler and Taylor Krasa of Mountain Ridge. Both have dipped under 5:20 on the season for 1600 meters.
And, right now, there isn't much more to be said about the state of things in Division 1.