What's the biggest story of the last week? Well, we could argue about that a little. And your take on that question probably depends a little on which direction your team headed. We'll try to give all those directions their due in this article.
We'll start with Woodbridge. We'll start there because it was the biggest meet on the national stage, and several Arizona teams were in attendance at that meet.
One excellent way to get a read on what the Arizona story was at Woodbridge (arguably the fastest "cross country" course in North America) is to slam all the Arizona results into a single virtual meet. No, all the Arizona teams didn't run in the same race. BUT, nobody goes to Woodbridge to jog through. So, though races happened at different times, everyone brought roughly equal adrenaline to the line.
Arizona Boys Meet Merge for Woodbridge, 2021 (subscription required to view meet merge)
The merge here does not include individuals who made their way to California to run this past weekend, but it does include all the teams that did so. Among those, five boys ran under 15 minutes for the three-mile course. Four of those boys were from Desert Vista. Those were Noah Jodon, Johnathan Estrada, Ethan Bukowski, and Gabe Parham. Arizona's fastest athlete of the weekend was Ironwood Ridge's Logan Marek at 14:26
That helps to put some perspective on Desert Vista's domination of the Arizona competition. It was total. Nobody--not Brophy, not Campo Verde, not anyone--was close. Campo Verde did, however, stand tall among the Division 2 teams in attendance.
We'll add a hedge clause to that assessment, however, by noting that the state course isn't a whole lot like the Woodbridge course. So, the kind of results we saw in California this weekend aren't necessarily the kind of results we'll see in a little less than two months. Course differences and time will have their say.
Also of particular note from the weekend in California was the performance turned in by Northwest Christian. NCS comes in at an astonishing #5 for Arizona teams for the weekend, led by the efforts of Jonah Archer and Luke Poarch. As you assess candidates for the Division 4 boys title at the end of this season, be sure your assessment includes this group.
Amazingly, Woodbridge wasn't the only draw in California for Arizona schools this past weekend. Cibola, Flowing Wells, McClintock, Mountain Pointe, and Salpointe Catholic all ran in San Diego (Balboa Park, to be more precise). And the same axiom as holds for Woodbridge holds here: nobody goes out of the state to run slow. Times look a little slower here, but that's because of the course, not because of the absence of adrenaline.
Bennett Meyer-Wills ran a nice 16:22 for eighth, but his Cibola team was well back in the Division 1 team scoring. In Division 2, the Salpointe Diegos (Diego Delgado and Diego Logan-Behshad) ran a very nice 9-10 to pace Salpointe to a second-place team finish. Watch this team! We'll note that the Salpointe Diego's haven't yet been elevated to sainthood, but they clearly enjoyed running in San Diego.
Back Home Again in... Arizona
With Desert Twilight coming up next weekend, however, a large portion of Arizona chose to stay home this past weekend and set themselves to unload at Arizona's own signature meet this coming weekend. Setting themselves to unload, however, was not necessarily synonymous with laying low.
This was the largest meet of the weekend within the confines of Arizona. Gilbert came out a little more affirmatively this time than their earlier outing of the season, winning the meet by a margin of 38 points over Chaparral, 102 to 140. Corona del Sol was a close (to second) third at 148. A 1-3 from Terrence Keyes and Javier Garcia set the tone. Nobody could close the gap after that kind of start. Noah Plaza of Williams Field chased Keyes to the finish line but came up 11 seconds too long to pull off the upset.
Gilbert becomes a fearsome team sometime this fall if they can navigate, say, 20 seconds or so of closure on the 3-4/5 gap.
I tried to find some notable small-school performances at this meet to give shout-outs to, but the small-school performers here were buried rather deeply in the results. Perhaps another week...
All but for a 4-5 gap that could come in for some trimming, Flagstaff looked like world-beaters at this meet. Page, admittedly a division down from Flagstaff, ran a distant second to the Eagles at this one. Hopi ran a very respectable third. You have two very serious candidates for the Division 3 and Division 4 titles right there.
Cesar Diaz ran sub-16 last week on what we might call a screamer of a course. He scores more hall-of-fame-of-cross-country points for doing it again on this course. But, his 15:52 still came up four seconds short of Flagstaff's Lance Harris. Those two got quite a bit of separation from the rest of the field.
If your Spanish is not quite up to par, you may be wondering why someone would name a meet after mosquitos. But, a solution to your disequilibrium is near at hand. "Los Mezquites" makes reference to Mesquite trees, not mosquitoes.
This smaller-school meet saw D3 Thatcher take the win over D4 North Phoenix Prep after spotting the Gladiators the first two places in Samuel Johnston and Thomas Koska (and this isn't the first time this season Johnston and Koska have been treated so deferentially). But, cross country typically does come down to depth, and Thatcher had more of that than NPP. We'll note here that Thatcher has the makings of a good season going, but the jury is going to be out for a while until we see Thatcher up against some of the top D3 teams.
For the record, this one looks like a slower course than some of these guys have run earlier in the season.
Another small school meet. At this one, Snowflake took top honors, dumping Coconino (and a lot of other schools) in the process. Snowflake got three top-ten finishes from Caleb Anson, Trey Flake, and Garrett Craner. That was most of what it took. It is true that Coconino saw some shuffling of their regular order, but nothing on the order of what would be likely to overturn the results of this meet. Quietly, Snowflake is making its case as a Division 3 team of concern.
When in Kingman, don't look at the temperature. You don't want to know.
If I'm missing something here, it wouldn't be the first time, but at this point I'm not seeing any results that rise to the level of state meet kind of concern. That doesn't mean we ignore these teams going forward, only that this meet doesn't yield the kind of information that makes you say, "You know...."
That's a wrap for the boys for this week. Be sure to come back later in the week for the girls, then again next week when we start putting together some of the pieces of the state meet puzzle in a systematic sort of way.