Monday, we did the girls. Today, then, it's the boys' turn to step up and take some spotlight.
Necessarily, this article focuses heavily on Desert Twilight. It's the midseason meet in Arizona that very nearly every team in the state attends. As such, it offers some very good insights into how the rest of the season will play out. It's entirely possible a team will start to crumble after a big performance at DT, but it's also possible that DT provides a launching pad for the remainder of the season for many teams. Right now, we can't say which way things will go for any particular team, but we acknowledge that the possibilities are out there.
We'll start with a look at how the Division 1 virtual meet for DT scores. Note that these links to virtual meets will only open for subscribers. There's still plenty here in this article for you if you're not a subscriber, but the links won't open.
It was a good night for the Desert Vista Thunder. They easily dispatched both Highland and Red Mountain, beating both teams at every scoring position. Between Noah Jodon, Gabe Parham, and Johnathan Estrada, the Thunder claimed three of the top five individual positions and coasted home from there. Not only is DV the fastest team on the block, but they are the deepest team on the block as well. The combination is potent.
It's difficult to cast DV as anything but an overwhelming favorite to win the state title at this point. Both Highland and Red Mountain (nobody else is close at this point) are formidable teams, but the advantage in firepower belongs to DV.
Red Mountain may have the more interesting of the two cases right now. Elijah Davis ran very well to win the Boys Championship race at DT. And, after missing the start of the season, Noah Czajkowski finished seventh in the same race. If things keep taking these kind of turns for Red Mountain, we could be reading a different story by the time November 13 rolls around.
We'll let you know if we see it happening.
The Desert Twilight theory breaks down a little here as Flagstaff did not run a regular varsity roster at DT. Since I don't have any clues as to why (the Eagle girls did run a regular varsity), it makes no sense for me to speculate here. Suffice it to say that Flagstaff remains in the title hunt. They simply didn't use DT as an opportunity to show it.
For those teams who did put their varieties on the line at DT, here is what the D2 team scoring looks like: Desert Twilight 2021 Division 2 Virtual Team Scoring.
Campo Verde, fresh off a stirring effort at Woodbridge, stuck it to the D2 field at DT. Martin Breinholt was the only top-ten finisher in the D2 crowd, but the Coyotes made it happen with depth--four at 16:30 or better. Campo Verde's 101 virtual meet points easily fended off the 147 for second-place Ironwood Ridge, and that despite Logan Marek's 15:05 heroics.
Ironwood Ridge, in turn, fairly easily outpaced the pursuit of Marana, Catalina Foothills, and Gilbert. Yes, at some level, everyone is still in the hunt, but it's looking more and more like Campo Verde vs. Flagstaff for the state title. Ironwood Ridge holds out some hope provided they can trim some time at 3, 4, and 5.
Gilbert, a team that looked early on like a very serious contender, is trying to work some magic at 4 and 5 to trim seconds and get themselves back into the hunt. Stay tuned on whether or not that happens.
For that, you must turn your eyes mainly toward the southeast and consider the prospects of Salpointe Catholic. The Lancers have pretty much everything going their way right now, including the DT virtual meet scoring: Desert Twilight 2021 Division 3 Virtual Team Scoring. For the record, Salpointe defeated all the state's D2 teams in an overall DT merge. Maybe you aren't convinced the Lancers are that good, but the results say otherwise.
Page and Shadow Mountain have the unenviable task of being first in line to chase the Lancers. They're both good teams, and both ran well at DT, but there's a lot of distance between Salpointe and the pack right now. There seems to be some ineffable magic embedded in having three Diegos in your scoring five (if only the other schools in the state had known...). With five under 17 minutes, the Lancers obliterated the competition, and mostly on depth.
Page has a high card in Cody Slim, and Shadow Mountain's high card is Nate Pestka, but neither Page nor Shadow Mountain goes five-deep after the fashion of Salpointe. Until that changes the favorite in the state title picture will remain unchanged as well.
As the season progresses, the hand of Northwest Christian looks stronger and stronger. Three guys (Luke Poarch, Jonah Archer, and Glenn Thomas) under 16:30 go a long way toward that impression. After a very nice showing at Woodbridge the week before, NCS came back this last weekend with another stellar showing. If they have one more such effort left in the bag for state, they will be very tough to beat.
Thomas Koska (the top finisher in D4) and Samuel Johnston of North Phoenix Prep actually held the advantage over Northwest Christian through two places, but the Gladiators couldn't sustain that advantage down the line.
The rest of the teams? Well, they're looking for a way to turn 18s and 19s into 17s. If you can put all five runners into the 17s (or better), you're very likely to win D4. But, getting them all into the 17s is a very tall order at a small school.
Before I forget, here's the virtual meet scoring for D4: Desert Twilight 2021 Division 4 Virtual Team Scoring.