There's no time like the week after Desert Twilight to publish the midterm report cards. We'll start with girls.
But, first, a few notes of caution. The midterm is not the end of the season. It's entirely possible to go to Desert Twilight, spend all you've got, and scramble to put the pieces back together again, if at all, before state. Some teams went to DT with more caution; other teams went with less caution. There's a psychological effect of winning big at DT, but there's a physiological effect of emptying the tank at the same meet. It's relatively easy to measure the former here in the waning days of September. It's much more difficult to properly weigh the latter. Ultimately, only time will tell.
The surprise here might be the margin Desert Vista put up on Highland. DV beat Highland at every scoring position. There should be no mistake made here: DV owns the psychological advantage coming out of this meet. It wasn't just Lauren Ping who ran well in DV colors Friday night.
For those subscribers who would like to see how a D1 virtual meet of Desert Twilight breaks out, here is your team scoring: Desert Twilight 2021 Division 1 Merge. For the history buffs among us, Desert Vista prevailed over Highland at last year's DT has well, but the margin was much closer.
We'll note, however, that after Katie Sigerud, Bailee Christofis, Emily Littlefield, and Emery Ito got done doing there thing, there was well over a gap of one minute before the Thunder's #6 crossed. Mark that well: Desert Vista needs to remain healthy to hold their advantage.
Perry came in a relatively distant third this year, followed by, in order, Liberty, and Xavier College Preparatory. We've seen these kind of hints from Liberty earlier in the season. It was nice to see confirmation of the hints at DT. Behind Xavier was an enormous gap. We have five teams only with any kind of hope whatsoever to prevail on November 17. The rest of the teams at state will be running for pride, which is still a non-trivial thing to be running for.
This one has been setting up for a while now. As virtual victories go, Casteel's margin over Flagstaff was not great, but the Colts did down the Eagles at DT. Last year, Flagstaff pounded Casteel at DT; there's a change in the air this fall. There's still time left in the season and plenty left to be decided, but Flagstaff will not go into the state meet as prohibitive favorites again this fall.
Mia Hall, as expected, claimed the #1 position out of D2 finishers. But, Casteel claimed three of the top ten in Jadyn Herron-Jonap, Natalia Medina, and Kyah Zurek. Here's the detail on the D2 virtual: Desert Twilight 2021 Division 2 Merge.
Desert Mountain runs a distant third, followed by Catalina Foothills. Nobody else lives in the same area code. Another way of saying it would be to observe that, of all the remaining D2 teams, there were eight girls under 20 minutes (the top four teams had 11 sub-20s between them). That number may increase between now and state, but it's not likely to make a difference at the top of the team leaderboard.
We won't make you wait a little for the virtual team scoring this time. Here it is: Desert Twilight 2021 Division 3 Merge.
It's been shaping up all season, a showdown between Salpointe Catholic and Coconino. Salpointe takes the win this time, but by a margin that indicates this thing is far from settled. Still clinging to hopes are Snowflake and Chinle, but those are distant hopes. Chinle and Snowflake have both had some nice moments this season, but they didn't keep pace well enough with the two established leaders at DT to make any serious dents in the confidence of those two teams.
If Snowflake and Chinle mean to do something about the deficit they find themselves facing, there's the whole second half of the season left to change the story. Until then, all eyes are focused on Salpointe and Coco.
For the record, Salpointe beat Coco at every scoring position at DT. Normally, that's a reliable indicator that one team holds a clear advantage over the other. Maybe not so much so in this case in that the margins were razor-thin at positions 3 through 5. Coco comes out of DT with some ground to make up, but they also have reason to believe it's doable.
In some respects, this was the most interesting division of all at Desert Twilight. With the main contenders battling it out at smaller meets up until this weekend, we could only make some broad speculations about which teams held the upper hand. In this classification, as in no other, DT helped to bring the picture into much sharper focus.
Here's a quick look at the team merge: Desert Twilight 2021 Division 4 Merge.
We'll allow that Glendale Prep ran better than anyone else in D4 at DT. Quite a bit better, in fact. Taryn Janssen and Chloe Cannon had top-ten finishes to set things up, while 3 through 5 closed the door. That doesn't mean, however, that things are locked up for November 17.
Pusch Ridge Christian, Gilbert Classical, Northland Preparatory, and BASIS Phoenix (a team I've not yet mentioned this year) each kept it close enough that plenty of interest remains in the final outcome. Benson might still be hanging around in the conversation as well, but the Bobcats have a steeper road ahead of them if they mean to be in the state title hunt.
Although Glendale Prep scored very well up front, but the 3-4 (and therefore the 3-5, as well) gap for the Griffins will have to squeeze down before state. They got the job done this time, but it won't be as easy next time there's a big meet on the line.
BASIS Phoenix is an interesting story on account of the very tight 2-5 pack they ran at DT. If that group can kept pulling off of one another's energy and drop another 60 or 90 seconds before state, they become a certifiable team contender.
Gilbert Classical has a very high card in the person of Ayla Young, but times for the rest of the team need to start shedding seconds if they are to remain in the hunt.
We've talked here before about Pusch Ridge Christian. They did nothing to diminish their state title hopes at DT. For them, the battle is continuing to improve as they have been over the remaining seven weeks of the season.
Jessica Madrid of Round Valley posted another stirring performance, but the team presence to back up Madrid simply isn't there.