Three Weeks Out From State: Arizona Boys

Thomas Koska had things mostly to himself at the end of the Valley Christian Invitational.

It comes as no surprise that if it was a quiet week overall for Arizona girls that it was also a quiet week for Arizona boys. That doesn't mean nothing of interest happened. It just means you have to dig a little more for the gems.


Over in California, the Arizona teams were sparsely represented. By far the best set of results for Arizona came from Chandler Preparatory Academy. The Titans walked away with the title of the D5 Varsity Blue race. If that seems like a lot of qualifiers shoved into one race title, please consider that Mt. SAC hosted close to 10,000 athletes this fall. As with so many other things--only in California.

JD Ouellette led Chandler Prep's storming of the Mt. SAC castle. His time of 16:51 placed him 4th in the race. For the uninitiated, that's a solid time on the Mt. SAC course. "Unforgiving" takes on a little extra meaning when we apply it to the course at Mt. SAC.

Before leaving this section of the article, remind yourself that Chandler Prep is a D4 school and a team of some concern where state meet projections come into play.

Valley Lutheran

The battles between North Phoenix Prep and Northwest Christian continue, unabated. Both of these schools also field teams of interest in the D4 struggle for supremacy. The first five places went to runners from these two schools--first and second going to Thomas Koska and Samuel Johnston of NPP, with 3 through 5 going to Jonah Archer, Luke Poarch, and Glenn Thomas of Northwest Christian. 

In team scoring, though, it was Northwest Christian that mastered the field with 63 points. Chino Valley ran second with 95, relegating North Phoenix Prep to third with 113. Chino Valley is a D3 school if you're keeping track of these things at home. And I have no idea if they wear chinos in Chino Valley. My experience is limited in that respect. Actually, it's non-existent.

In any case, with state approaching, we're starting to see some enhanced thinning of the crowd where D4 boys team title contenders are concerned. And, whatever you think of the chances of each of the four or five teams remaining seriously to semi-seriously in the hunt, you've probably concluded by now that the driver's seat is occupied by Northwest Christian.

PUSD District Championship

PU, in this case, refers to Peoria Unified. SD means School District; San Diego would make no sense in this context. That helps a great deal to shrink the size of the circle encompassing the teams you'd expect to find at this meet. 

Though the boys of Liberty have not been on the same scorched-earth march their girls have been on this season, they have had their moments. Among those moments was winning the district meet by a convincing margin. Ryan Denhof takes the win with Jonathan Sweepe taking second. Nobody in the field had the depth necessary to knock Liberty out of their position of early advantage.


Joby Rojas continues to pile up meet titles. Thatcher, too, keeps winning. The competition at state will be considerably stiffer than it's been at most of the meets Thatcher has latched onto this season, but this is a legitimately good team even so. The runner-up role goes, once again, to Benson.

Paradise Valley District

The meet title here, for yet another district-wide meet, requires no further explanation.

Shadow Mountain won this one easily, as they should have. Nate Pestka took the individual title, but we'll note that Caden Acosta of Pinnacle made a very nice showing in second. Pestka had a bit more company toward the end than he often does.

Shadow Mountain remains the best hope, along with Page, of being a team that can seriously challenge Salpointe Catholic at state. But, let's be clear that the favorite status belongs to Salpointe at this stage of the season.

Cactus Shadows

Homestanding Cactus Shadows very nearly perfect-scored the meet. Jason Lundgren led the charge with a winning time of 15:44, better than 50 seconds ahead of his nearest teammate in second. CS is a very good team, make no mistake about it, but there's a nice crowd of very good teams at the top of Division 2. If the Shadows make a strong move in these next three weeks, though, they could still be in the title hunt.

As a sidebar, I'll note that Lucky McGhee may have the best name in Arizona high school cross country this fall. I'll take other nominations, but McGhee is at the head of my pack right now.


Deer. Valley. Unified. School. District. Scratch any thoughts you had of Desert Vista.

Mountain Ridge and Sandra Day O'Connor battled to a 32-all tie at the top, with the title going to MR on the tie-breaker. Never assume you're irrelevant if you're the sixth runner.

Mountain Ridge also got an individual title from Peyton Schneider in 16:28. Though it was SDO's home course, the SDO guys really weren't that close.

Rincon University Triangular

I'll say here what I said in the girls' summary for the week. I don't know that Rincon University hosted this meet but, from what I do know, they're at least as likely as the other two schools present to have hosted. Barring the arrival of other news, we'll give RU the credit.

Rincon University did win the meet, and convincingly so, but Pueblo Magnet--which boasted the top two finishers in Sammy Rosthenhausler (who is probably way too accustomed to spelling his surname for other people) and Estevan Gonzales--handed RU a big assist when they didn't have enough runners to complete a team score.