Taking Stock Of Arizona's Girls Opening Weekend

Wheaten Smith snared her second meet title in as many attempts on Saturday.

We reviewed opening weekend for the boys on Monday. Today, we take a closer look at what happened with the girls. Just like the boys, we'll do this meet-by-meet. It's very early in the season to try to be drawing lines of comparison from meet to meet.

Chandler Invitational

A very large portion of the state was in action at Chandler this last weekend. Of course, Chandler splits the action up by grade level. Although a few juniors are older than a few seniors, it's still an interesting way to break things up and a change from the usual routine. But the "change from the usual routine" part is what messes things up and makes the results difficult to interpret. It's not a perfect fix to merge everything back together and score the top sevens from each team (various grade levels ran at different times of day and therefore different levels of perceived heat), but it does show us something useful when we do that. So, with that in mind, here's what the results from the Chandler Invitational look like when we combine classes and break them down by classification (note that you'll only be able to follow these links if you're a MileSplit subscriber):

Division 1 Scoring of Chandler Invitational

Division 2 Scoring of Chandler Invitational

Division 3 Scoring of Chandler Invitational

Division 4 Scoring of Chandler Invitational

We see that Highland soundly ran away from Division 1. No surprise there except for possibly, to some, the fact that Desert Vista was off running in Flagstaff. The DV teams run separate programs and do not always show up at the same meet. In DV's absence, the crew of Emma Baugh, Kayla Case, and company, more or less had their way with things. Mesa Mountain View ran a distant second; after that, the masses. Whatever else you take away from this meet, please understand that Highland is for real. At this point, depth is something that is still a work in progress, but the front five or six got the job done very nicely.

In Division 2, however, things were tight. Desert Mountain, Catalina Foothills, and Marana are each very much in the hunt. All three schools, plus the rest of the field, have some work to do with trimming times up and down the scoring roster, but nobody comes out of this meet with anything like a prohibitive lead on the field. 

ALA Queen's Creek hung one on the field in Division 3. While Saguaro and Arizona College Prep were within shouting distance, it took a rather loud shout to reach the ears of ALAQC. Of note, ACP's Eryca Fawkes finished (perhaps) unexpectedly close to Evelynne Carr for individual honors. Both are juniors, so they actually did get the chance to square off head to head. For now, though, and so far as teams at this meet go, we put ALAQC firmly in the driver's seat. 

Division 4 times were a little on the side of soft at this very-early-in-the-season meet, but Veritas Preparatory, Gilbert Classical, and Valley Christian ran what amounted to a dead heat at the front. Expect this race to heat up later in the season as the temperatures abate a little.

The Peaks Invitational

If you spent the weekend looking for Desert Vista, they showed up here. Maybe they don't like the Chandler format. Maybe they like the cooler air in Flagstaff. Maybe something else, or maybe a little of both. In any case, they showed up at The Peaks Invitational. Perhaps more accurately, they owned The Peaks Invitational.

As with the boys, we're concerned mainly with the Ascent and Summit Divisions. 

Conspicuously absent from the DV roster at The Peaks was Katie Sigerud. Sigerud is a senior (could have been on a recruiting trip) and figures prominently in any title hopes the Thunder holds for later this fall. For this meet, however, she was not part of the picture, nor did she need to be. DV won just fine without her.

Behind DV, and in order, were Flagstaff (D2), Xavier College Preparatory (D1), and Salpointe Catholic (D3). It reads a little like a Who's Who of Arizona girls high school cross country. 

Lauren Ping ran away with the individual title in 18:10. To put that mark into perspective, Kylie Wild (Salpointe) was the only other finisher under 20 minutes at 19:44. We may have an early favorite for the D1 individual title. Mia Hall led the D2 finishers in 20:02. Hall, of course, was running in her own hometown.

Of some note, D3 Coconino--running their second meet of the week--showed up in the Ascent Division and got their second win of the week, by a relatively narrow margin, over Chinle. Wheaten Smith's 21:09 would have placed her fifth in the Summit Division.

For those desirous of seeing a little combined scoring magic from The Peaks meet, I offer you this:

Combined Scoring for The Peaks Invitational

Take special note that, in the combined scoring, both Coconino and Chinle move by Salpointe Catholic. That should stir a little interest in some parts. Only half in jest, I'll venture a suggestion that Coconino's and Chinle's black uniforms may become less of an added burden as we go deeper into the season.

Battle at the Border

Kyra Floyd of Pusch Ridge Christian made it, I believe, a family affair by winning the individual title here. Nogales, however, pretty much ran the table for the team title. Honestly, unless you have serious and focused rooting interest in Nogales, there wasn't a lot to see here. Most of the smallish schools in attendance struggled to field complete teams.

Duel in the Desert

Cactus Shadows' Duel turned out to have a couple of bonus teams beyond the usual expectations of a duel. After spotting visiting Deer Valley the top two places, however, Cactus Shadows roared back and won the meet on a tie-breaker. Nya Valenzuela's winning time of 19:43, however, not only beat the field by a little over two minutes, but it also rightfully raised a few eyebrows.

Canyon Del Oro/Amphitheater/Ironwood Ridge

Yes, triangulars are a thing early in the season as well. Ironwood Ridge dominated this one. Leading the way for IR was Beatrice Honebrink (that name sounds a little suspiciously Dutch) took the win in 21:39. As best as I can tell, that represents a first individual cross country meet title for Honebrink in her high school career. Nice going, Beatrice!

Section Meet: Liberty and Shadow Ridge

I admit to being confused here. The meet title headlines Liberty and Shadow Ridge, but Valley Vista was in attendance as well. 

Regardless of how that issue resolves itself, Liberty exercised stark domination over the girls race. Conditions may (or may not) have been particularly nice for early September, but Liberty rolled off some nice times at the front of the field. Madeline Reeves won in 19:46, with McKinley Blanton also slipping under the magical 20-minute barrier. The first eight places belonged to Liberty, which more or less fixed the team outcome of the meet.

As a total aside, Liberty is likely the most common high school name in the United States. Searching the MileSplit database for any particular Liberty High School is not an exercise in narrowing the field much.

Northwest Christian Invite

From the perspective of girls' cross country, this one didn't carry a lot of interest. Seven girls finished the race. None of the teams had enough members for a team score. We'll salvage this summary a little, however, by noting that NW Christian's Emma Stanley won the race by 3:01 with a finishing time of 22:55. It's reasonable to think you can expect hear more from Stanley in Division 4 as the season progresses.