While Arizona competition can often be overshadowed by the stars of Colorado and Utah to the north, California to the west, and Texas to the east, Desert Twilight provides the opportunity to assemble formidable fields along what is guaranteed to be a fast course.
The last phase of the night began with the Girls Championship Race. Taylor McCue (Catalina Foothills, Jr.) and Jessica Madrid (Round Valley, Sr.) ran neck and neck through much of the race stringing out the pack behind them. McCue would outkick Madrid to secure the individual victory and dip under 18-minute mark for a 17:58.4 clocking, a personal best by 22-seconds.
Madrid finished runner-up only five seconds behind McCue, but almost a minute ahead of junior Evelynne Carr from ALA-Queen Creek. Though Wheaton Smith (Jr.) led the charge for Coconino HS with an individual fourth-place finish, the Cherokee Trail cougars held a spread at just over a minute to clinch the team trophy over the Coconino panthers.
In the Boys Championship Race, Elijah Davis (Sr.) spearheaded the Red Mountain Boys with an individual victory over Jason Lundgren (Sr.) of Cactus Shadows. Jorge Trujillo (Rio Rico, Sr.) and Tyler Tisinger (Corona Del Sol, Jr.) finished third and fourth respectively with new personal bests under 16 minutes. Red Mountain teammates, Noah Czajkowski, Matthew Hamilton, and Tyler Matthews finished 7th, 12th and 15th respectively and with Greyson Akers' 16:51 finish for 31 points, the RM Lions sealed the deal with a total of 59 points.
In the Girls Sweepstakes Race, Lauren Ping (Desert Vista, Sr.) ran neck and neck with Bethany Michalak (Air Academy, So.) through the first mile of the race. Over the next two miles, Ping would press the lead and expand it by fourteen-seconds to claim her first Desert Twilight Title in 16:40.4, with a nine-second personal-best that also stands as the All-Time Arizona Girls 5km record on home soil. Michalek held on for the runner-up finish at just under 17-minutes. Mia Prok (Jr.) finished third as a vital low stick for the Niwot Girls, and was followed by teammates Madison Shults (Jr.) in 6th, Eva Klingbeil (Sr.) in 8th, Stella Vieth (Sr.) in 13th, and Tessa Everett (Sr.) in 21st all within a 50 second spread. All together the Cougars clinched the team title with only 44 points.
Emily Lamontagne (Arapahoe) placed fourth in 17:09, and with the help of her teammates Ava Mitchell and Ava Escorcia who placed 9th and 14th respectively, the Arapahoe Warriors handily secured the runner-up finish with a team score of 77 points.
Closing out the night, the Boys Sweepstakes Race was carried by a tight lead pack between Isaiah Givens (Pasadena, Sr.), Zane Bergen (Niwot, Sr.), Rendon Kuykendall (Hope Christian, Jr.) Connor McCormick (Longmont, Sr.) over the first two-miles. Bergen and McCormick would overtake Givens, with the former powering through the finish in 14:51 while McCormick held on for the runner-up finish in 14:55. Isaiah Givens landed on the 15-flat mark for third, soon followed by Kuykendall, Joey Hendershot (Sr.) of Niwot, and Bryce Reeburgh (Sr.) of Golden. Logan Marek (Ironwood Ridge, Sr.) finished 5th in 15:05 as the top Arizona boy of the night ahead of Joey Sandel (Johnson Ferry Christian Academy, Sr.) from Georgia. Terrence Keyes (Gilbert, Sr.) and Land Lambert (Durango, Sr.) rounded out the top-ten finishers of the race under 15:10.
Carlos Kipkorir Cheruiyot (Jr.) finished 14th as the third Niwot boy among the top fifteen, and once Frederick Ambrose (Jr.) and Isaac Robinson (Sr.) came through under 16-minutes in the top forty, it was all she wrote for the Cougars. A total of 61 points was more than enough for Niwot to cement their dominance under the Friday Night Lights in San Tan Valley, AZ.
Led by Andres Gurrola (Sr., 20th) the EP Eastwood Troopers placed second as a team, while Noah Jodon (Desert Vista, Sr.) and his fellow Thunder Seniors, Gabe Parham and Jonathan Estrada clocked in under 16-minutes to ensure third place as the top Arizona boys' team.