Now that the location for NXRSW has been settled for 2021, we can give our once-again undivided attention to how things are developing in the regular season.
The biggest meet, by far, for which we have results from last week is the Fountain Hills Invitational. So, we'll start there. Before we do, though, let me shamelessly offer that the single best way to get your meet discussed in this column each week is for the host school to post results to the meet page or to email in results to firstname.lastname@example.org (send those as soon as you can after the meet, but leave out the underscore I put in there to harass the scrapers).
Kylie Wild ran a blistering pace, but she never quite fully finished off Mia Hall. Both ran awe-inspiring times, with Wild talking the win, 17:29 to 17:31. Evelynne Carr of ALAQC and Ava Potts of Chandler were the only other two under 19 minutes.
In the realm of the smallest schools, Ryley Nelson of Gilbert Christian sent a few signals with a ninth-place finish in 19:35. After eschewing the 3200 in the spring, Nelson seems capably back to covering longer distances in the fall.
Although Liberty didn't have a finisher until Madeline Reeves in sixth at 19:21, the Lions took a rather convincing win in the team tally. Three in the top 10 and five in the top 22 will do that for you. Liberty may not yet be nipping at the heels of the likes of Highland and Desert Vista, but they have already established themselves as one of the state's better Division 1 programs.
Flagstaff's distant second could be seen by some as a tiny bit of exposure of the soft underbelly of the monster in Division 2. We'll hold off on making a judgment on that, but, meanwhile, it would be tough to fault folks for wondering.
Although the title of the meet doesn't offer many clues, this one was held in Gilbert. The French and English have markedly different pronunciations of "Gilbert," but, in the absence of evidence of a large French influence near Phoenix, I'm going to go with the typical English pronunciation. It's also a tiny bit early for the equinox, but maybe they prefer to start celebrating early in Gilbert.
Although the meet was somewhat on the side of small, we still got a nice cross-section of top teams showing up for this one. Emma Baugh and Kayla Case (both of Highland) got a clear 1-2, but Clara Jones (Campo Verde) and Jadyn Herron-Jonap (Casteel) kept it close enough to make it interesting.
Highland won the team title easily, with three of their scoring five under 20 minutes. It wasn't a lights-out kind of performance for the Hawks, but it was enough to squash the hopes of everyone else attending the meet. Division 2 Casteel ended up comfortably in second. Perry and Mesa Mountain View rounded out the top four.
Unless you consider Casteel moving by Perry a surprise, there was little in the way of surprises to be found at this meet. Casteel downed Perry at the 4 and 5 positions, showing a kind of depth that could prove important to the Colts as we move deeper into the season. It's not unthinkable this team creates some challenges for defending champion Flagstaff in November.
Normally, when visitors to a MileSplit site hear or read the word "Multi," visions of decathlons, pentathlons, and heptathlon dance in their heads. It didn't take long, however, for folks to figure out that wasn't what this meet was about. I'm guessing the "Multi" in this case means multi-levels--as in a meet that wrapped in both high school and middle school competitions. Tuck that away in case the nomenclature reappears somewhere later this season (or later in this article).
Suffice it to say that, several days before Casteel ran the #2 in the Western Equinox meet, they were dominating things at the Payson Multi. When I say "dominating things," I mean seven of the top eight places and one point short of a perfect team score. Casteel was, as the saying goes, taking no prisoners. Only Queen Creek's Alona Haymore was around to break up the party.
Queen Creek was second and Hopi third, but it's tough to say exactly what either of those finishes mean in the larger scheme of things. It's often tough to read meaning out of a smaller meet on a slower course, both of which describe this meet.
If you know anything about Window Rock, you know you might as well be in New Mexico. But, no New Mexico teams were there. Sometimes things work out that way. As is somewhat typical for meets hosted on the reservation, the course ran slower than, say, most meets you'll find in the greater Phoenix area.
Whitney James of Ganado took the win by more than two minutes. She evidently specializes in single-digit finishes. On the season, she has a 1, a 2, and a 5.
Hop in your car and take a drive to Yuma for this one. Once there, you'll meet three teams from California, joining together to lock horns with the local Arizona programs.
Additional highlights from this meet are not readily identified.
I confess to not knowing who Justin Prevatte was, but he was honored here with a meet a bit on the side of small. Tombstone was the place.
Benson's Amity Hall has had a few previous first-place finishes in her high school career, but she added to her list here. Hall ran 20:46 to take the win by nearly 40 seconds. Thatcher, however, had some different ideas about the team title. Thatcher's 28 was 13 better than Benson's 41. In a meet with three scoring teams, that gap is a little bigger than it sounds. For those keeping this kind of score, Thatcher is Division 3 and Benson Division 4. At this point, neither team appears to be a state title threat, but you can get surprised when you stop paying attention.
Okay, so I abbreviated the meet name a little. If you click on the link, all the teams are still there.
In a battle of Tucson-area schools, Marana had most of the ammunition. Libby Shields took the win in 21:52, and the times are, like a few others of the past week difficult to interpret. For context, we could note that the same Libby Shields took third (to Ariel Fendenheim and Ava Potts) last weekend at the Chandler Invitational. So, Shields has some bona fide legitimacy, but evidently the Marana Mountain View course has some of its own as well.
Marana's 17 points dominated the team scoring. Marana is a solid Division 2 team, but we'll need to see more before we start repeatedly using them in the same sentence with Flagstaff and Casteel.
Hosted by Valley Vista, this meet is a strong candidate for toughest outing of the season so far. Monica Garcia of St. John Paul II Catholic wins in 24:16. Of special note, it appears that Garcia won in her first high school cross country outing. Not many people can lay claim to that distinction. Second place was more than a minute back. If you're thinking, "Maybe it looks better if we check out the boys results," it doesn't. No boy was below 20 minutes. We're pretty sure the course beat some people up at this one.
There's not much more to be said here.
A meet combining the forces of these four schools figures to draw more than 46 participants. That's just the first item on a list of things I can't explain here. Next would be, why would the girls run a longer (short) course than the boys?
Except for the top ends of both the boys and girls results, the meet results feel a bit like a sub-varsity affair. Lauren Kazaroff, who won the girls race, should be considered a legitimate varsity runner, but the list of established varsity runners here doesn't go very deep.
Unlike the Payson Multi, it's not immediately apparent from the results what "Multi" refers to in this meet title. What we can say with some assurance is that the meet amounted to a dual between Chino Valley and Bradshaw Mountain. We could also say it was a short course.
We'll just say that Chino Valley dominated this one. Leslie Estrada of Chino Valley took the win by a margin of about three minutes over second place. The times seem slowish for a 2.95 mile course. From that, we could infer heat, terrain, or some combination thereof. It seems also likely this was not a full-blown varsity meet.
That's what we have for now. More race results could yet come in from last week, but it's also the case that a lot of teams appear to have laid low for weekend #2 of the Arizona competitive season.