Early Returns: What Arizona's First Meets Tell Us

The last we saw of Micah Slivers (right), he was finishing eighth at the 2019 state meet. He finished a little higher on Tuesday.

It's September. It's cross country season. And there is plenty to be learned.


We'll make our first stop at the Hopi Cross Country Invitational. While most of the schools in attendance were schools from the reservation--and that alone promises to tell us some things worth knowing--a few other schools from around the reservation areas showed up as well. 

On the boys' side, one could only have hoped for the kind of showdown between Hopi and Page that developed. And, though the water is low behind the dam at Page, the Sand Devils were running as if water was spilling over the dam. That was just fast enough to stay ahead of Hopi. We will note, however, that Hopi was missing a couple of names we expected to see. Whether those names start showing up at meets later in the season remains to be seen. For now, though, our suspicions about Page and Hopi fielding their normally very good teams appear to be confirmed. The individual title, however, goes to Micah Slivers of Ganado

Coconino took the girls' title, less one very prominent name. Cathron Donaldson appeared nowhere in the results. As with Hopi, we'll have to wait and see what this means. Chinle was a distant second. It's not that Coconino can't find decent competition in northern Arizona, it's just that the competition that would push them to their limits wasn't here at this meet. Wheaten Smith took the win in Donaldson's absence. That wasn't exactly unexpected. With a couple of fresh faces joining some familiar faces, Coconino parked the whole of their scoring five into the race's top ten.

Times, as you may have already noted, were a bit on the side of slow for this meet. We'll infer a challenging course makes up at least a good part of the explanation.

For those of you dying for a glimpse into the future, there was a junior high meet held in conjunction with Hopi's high school meet. Results can be found at the link above. 


Held in Phoenix, where tough courses are generally more difficult to locate than at Keams Canyon, this one, too, had slower times. And, the times were slow enough that some sort of explanation is demanded. But, I don't have one--yet. I assume heat factors into the equation somewhere.

What does stand out, however, is that Erin Hooley of Fountain Hills won the girls' race by more than three minutes. If you need a visual for what kind of gap that is, think in terms of nearly half a mile. I will take that as good reason to take note of that name. I expect we'll hear more from her this season.

Beyond that, however, I'm fresh out of observations from this meet.


When meet names are in short supply, you can always abbreviate the entire list of attending teams. Or in Colorado, where I'm from, you name the meet after a mascot and a movie (Wolverine Dynamite). Either works. You can debate among yourselves which works better. If you're fond of using the slash key on your keyboard, though, you probably like the way this meet was named.

In any case, Reid Park in Tucson hosted a meet of somewhat smaller schools. 

As with almost any other meet you'll ever attend, we did have a pair of winning teams emerging out of this meet. That would be Nogales (NOG) on the girls' side and Sunnyside on the boys side.

Nogales did it with five girls in the top six. Only Amy Smith of Rincon University broke up the perfect score.

Sunnyside had an impressive lead through the top four runners on the boys' side but barely closed the deal ahead of hard-charging Nogales. As with all meets this time of year, we'll have to wait and see if that becomes a storyline for the season at Sunnyside. In the meanwhile, Edwardo Loya (I'm open to the idea there could be a revision of the spelling of Mr. Loya's first name coming our way) of Sunnyside picks up the win with his first-ever high school first-place finish.


Another meet conveniently named after the teams in attendance. And, my Spanish is doing reasonably well--I can successfully decode the meaning of the names in Spanish. 

Oscar Gonzales, a senior from Agua Fria, owns the (very) early distinction for the fastest time in the state with a win in 17:19. His AF teammates backed him up with a team title.

Pickings were a bit thinner on the girls' side, with only two of the four schools fielding complete teams. Reduced to effectively a dual meet with random individuals sprinkled in, Canyon View took the win with Arizona's first perfect team score of the year. Avery Spickler of CV collects the individual title.

Obviously, there are plenty more meets on their way this weekend--plus a small handful of completed meets that have not yet reported results. Look for a debriefing on many of those meets early next week!