Although it was a relatively quiet week as meets go, there were still things worth knowing coming out of the meets that did happen.
In this article, we'll take a whirlwind tour of last week's meets, attempting along the way to extract the most important bits of information from the results. And, we'll start with the Fountain Hills Invitational, the biggest meet of last week.
Stop for a moment and process this: fifteen boys ran faster than 16 minutes at this meet. Jon Barney, establishing himself as the Division 4 favorite in the process, ran 15:20 to lead the way. Only a little behind him was Mingus Union's Cesar Diaz at 15:28. Diaz is a Division 3 runner, as is Nate Pestka, who finished third. You could say the small-school types made a nice show of it.
At least some of that deluge of sub-16s may owe to the presence of some concrete in the course.
Team-wise, Flagstaff came off as a convincing cast of characters, taking the win over second-place Salpointe Catholic by a moderate margin. Hamilton, Liberty, and Desert Vista went 3-4-5. We'll note, however, that Desert Vista was not running their regular varsity, though Ethan Bukowski may have earned himself a spot on the regular varsity with his 15:49 effort. Presumably, even Desert Vista doesn't have seven other sub-16 types hanging around.
Among the smallest tier of schools, Northwest Christian managed a 10th-place finish in a 50-team field. Make a mental note of that.
Eagar took the win in 15:48, five seconds ahead of Noah Plaza of Williams Field. Thomas Koska of North Phoenix Prep grabbed small-school honors in third. Had Koska run one second faster, he would have had his first trip to the land of sub-16 for 5K. Maybe next time out...
Like the Highland High girls, the boys didn't seem to have the gas pedal all the way to the floor, but they had it close enough to the floor to take a convincing win all the same. Counting the Open race, Highland did have eight guys at 17:10 or better. That's not a bad place to be.
Mesa Mountain View claimed second in the team standings, while Division 2 Campo Verde slipped into third. If, for whatever reason, Campo Verde is not yet on your radar, they should be. D2 is ripe for some turbulence, and Campo Verde is one of the teams in a reasonable position to do that.
Beware of Hopi. After spotting Samuel Neat and Zachary Ripperdan the first two places, Hopi--led by Jerren Tenakhongva--claimed the next four, plus 10th, to complete their scoring. While Casteel took a beating at graduation this spring, they're still a reliably good D2 team and Hopi took them to the cleaners. D1 Queen Creek finishes third.
I don't know exactly where the course runs for this meet, but if it's actually in the canyon, it has to be one of the top-10 most breathtaking courses in the nation. Full stop. I kind of suspect, however, the course runs elsewhere.
Coconino may have been able to keep a tight rein on the girls' team standings in this meet, they absorbed a beating on the boys' side of things. Page got the individual title from Cody Slim and edged out New Mexico-based Tohatchi for the team title. Holbrook, who got a second from Namath Gene, finished third. It's not at all surprising that Page appears to have yet another good team this all.
It was a small school meet, and I think, in this case, CAA stands for Canyon Athletic Association. Regardless, none of the schools appear to be AIA-aligned, so we'll note that Tannis Manha of Heritage Academy won the race in 17:56, that Heritage Academy could probably compete very nicely in Division 4 if that were their choice, and move on.
Watch for the names of Bennett Meyer-Wills and Cibola High School. Both had nice openers at this meet. To be sure, both will face bigger challenges down the road of the season than they faced here, but they opened well--Meyer-Wills by winning by almost a minute and Cibola by posting a team score of just over half the total posted by second-place Lake Havasu.
About nine different smaller schools gathered in Tombstone. Several schools didn't have enough runners to score as a team. Thatcher came away the clear winner, and also with the top two places. Going sub-17 to earn those places were Joby Rojas and Dean Haller. Division 4 Benson ran well to claim second in the team scoring. We'll watch Benson a little down the road as a potential D4 team of interest.
I mentioned this already in the girls review of this meet, but either the course, the conditions, or both were a factor here. It's hard to explain a winning time of 18:44 any other way. Caleb Salcido of Marana posted the win, and his teammates occupied five of the next nine places. Even for a quad meet, the outcome wasn't very close. We'll wait and see how Marana looks when they have a chance to run at something closer to full speed. For now, they're on the Division 2 watch list, but we need a chance to get a better read.
As best as I can tell, conditions were worse here than at the meet above. This time, the winner was Valley Vista's Kade Ruff in 20:40. Ruff already has two other times this season in the mid-17s, so the time here is definitely something of an aberration.
Valley Vista didn't have enough for a team score, paving the road for Estrella Foothills to take the team title.
They ran 1.91 miles. It's very hard to know what to make of that. We do know that D'Andre Watson, Gibson Kibia, and Francis Kibia went 1-2-3. They're the kind of runners who might easily go 1-2-3 in a smaller meet. But with the short course and a small field, it's hard to say exactly what we learned here. Or at least what we learned that might have a telling application to sometime, oh, about the middle of November.
Another small meet, this one even smaller than the last.
In what might otherwise be dubbed a Chino Valley-Bradshaw Mountain dual, Chino Valley dominated--as in claiming the first nine places kind of dominated. Quenton Metz takes the win in 17:33. Metz ran a minute faster later in the week at Fountain Hills, so he does have a reasonable set of wheels.