After two weeks of comparative doldrums, the world of Arizona high school cross country awoke a bit--though not entirely--from its slumber last week. We'll take a closer look here to see what happened around the state.
The team title, however, belonged to Liberty, as the Lions continue their rampant run through the season. It's hard to see Liberty catching or overtaking Desert Vista or Highland this year, but Liberty has given us reason to believe it may not be that long before we see some sort of changing of the guard at the top of Division 1 girls.
Second place (62 points to Liberty's 20--there were lots of runners in the top positions who did not collect team scores) went to Arbor View. That's a Nevada school! Desert Ridge was the second-place Arizona school at 123 points. Such was the measure of Liberty's domination. Meanwhile, we'll note that Liberty was down at least one of their top runners for this meet. Which is to say it could have been worse for the other Arizona schools.
Last week, I wondered aloud how Katie Bell of Lake Havasu might fare against less geographically isolated competition. The answer? She finished ninth in this meet. That's a good finish by any reckoning but just might also provide a little extra surge of motivation for Bell.
As it was with the boys, this was probably the most competitive meet of the past week for the girls.
As expected, Highland came out as the top team. Behind them, Casteel ran a very solid second. The Colts did everything they could to solidify their standing as a legitimate Division 2 title contender. There will be a showdown with Flagstaff on November 13. What's unclear now is whether or not there will be another team (or teams) meaningfully involved in the showdown.
Emma Baugh took the win, as expected, in 18:03. Close on her heels, however, was Clara Jones of Campo Verde at 18:08. Evelynne Carr led a strong ALA Queen's Creek showing with an 18:15. ALAQC has the daunting task of chasing down Salpointe Catholic and Coconino at state, but they've not yet abandoned the mission.
Speaking of Salpointe Catholic... they were hosting their own meet down in Tucson. It doesn't always happen this way, but you're supposed to win when you host your own meet. Or at least it's nice to win. Salpointe didn't just win--they dominated. SC came away with 27 points to 99 points for second-place Cienega. Third-place Thatcher had 100. That was a solid showing for D3 Thatcher, but also provides a ready measure of how strong Salpointe shows against some solid D3 competition.
In the high-end talent field of view, Kylie Wild beat Taylor McCue to the finish line, 18:06 to 18:19. Altogether, only four athletes broke 20 minutes. I suspect that battle for the top two positions would have been fun to watch, but you would have missed most of the rest of the race if you committed to watching the top two hammer it out.
This meet is of no consequence so far as AIA matters are concerned, but we'll take a moment here to note that Heritage Academy rides high with six of the top seven places. I'm certain there are some kids here who would love to lock horns with some AIA competition, but I don't think that happens.
On paper, the girls race figured to be more tightly contested than the boys. Coconino's girls rank as a more formidable foe to Flagstaff than the boys do. As so often happens, however, what projects on paper doesn't always show up on the course. Flagstaff handled Coconino easily. It is true that Coconino was down a couple of their usual scoring five, but it would scarcely have mattered; Flagstaff was in control.
Mia Hall wins in 17:43, 1:17 ahead of teammate Makennah Mitchell who, in turn, edged out Emily Mullaney of BASIS Flagstaff. Mullaney is a D4 runner, and her name is one we should mark well as a D4 contender.
The refrain is familiar. For that matter, so are the verses. Amity Hall of Benson takes the indi win; Thatcher takes the team title. If you're keeping track, this means Thatcher competed in two meets last week. I'm guessing this is the last time before state they'll have that kind of burn rate.
Abigayle Nez of Holbrook took individual honors at 21:05, but the team title goes to Ganado. Figure on seeing Ganado at state, but they'll need to make a substantial step up in the next three weeks to be in the hunt for a state title.
Ayla Young of Gilbert Classical demolished the field with a 19:55. It took a few places before team help started arriving for Young, but when it did Gilbert Classical came away with the win by a margin of nine points over Tempe Preparatory. Young makes her statement as a competitor of interest at state with this triumph.
I remarked in the boys' article about the apparent difficulty of the course. I'll repeat that observation here. Temyra Bia of Chinle wins it in 20:30. It's certainly not the first race she's won this season. Jade Reid of Page takes an easy second. The team title, however, is firmly in the grip of Chinle. No questions about it.
Ryah Zakula, a freshman from Boulder Creek, embarks on making a name for herself by running 20:09 for a 46-second win at this lightly-attended Wednesday meet. Boulder Creek buries the competition for the team title.
Even for a quad meet, this one was kinda small. Small or no, however, another freshman set out here on a journey that could one day end up in some notoriety. Chantel Szeto of Paradise Valley ran 19:50 to just miss winning by a full minute. Paradise Valley, perhaps inspired by Szeto's run, capitalized on opportunity with a resounding team title.