If you were looking for something big to emerge out of the Arizona sections, you probably come to the end of the week a bit disappointed. As almost always happens, the Arizona sectionals were mostly an exercise in the expected, and perhaps especially so where the acknowledged powerhouse teams were concerned.
Nevertheless, we'll review the highlights here. To do that, we'll break things down by sectional.
Division II - You can look high and low for Division I schools in the Buena sectional and not find them. In Division II, Logan Marek didn't exactly run away from everyone, but he didn't need to to win. And, in winning, he set the tone for Ironwood Ridge to run roughshod over the region. Catalina Foothills was a distant second, followed by Marana and Canyon del Oro. Among DII girls, Taylor McCue had precisely zero trouble running to the sectional crown. Her Catalina Foothills team, however, barely slipped through with the regional crown. The first three places were very tight between CF, Marana, and Cienega. Ironwood Ridge claimed fourth before the gaps started to grow especially large.
Division III - Salpointe Catholic had no trouble winning the sectional crowns--either boys or girls. Nor do I think anyone expected that they would. The girls, in fact, came within two points of perfect-scoring the sectional. It was Salpointe's to own, and they did exactly that. Second place, in both cases, went to Thatcher. Thatcher will advance to state, along with a few other schools. And, Thatcher should do well at state, but it's difficult to envision a scenario that moves them ahead of Salpointe. The gap is substantial. The mirror image of the sectional races, incidentally, continued through third (Sabino) and fourth (Tanque Verde) places. That makes for fuller buses headed to state, a fact which should help keep a few district bean counters happy. Individual title winners were, more or less as expected, Jor Trujillo-Lira--who just barely made it in with his Rio Rico teammates--and Kylie Wild.
Division IV - It was a clean sweep for Pusch Ridge Christian and the Floyd family. Myles Floyd won the boys crown; Kyra Floyd won the girls crown. Falling in behind PRC in the team tally was, in both cases, Benson. Only one more team qualified in girls and only two more in boys. It was a section of not very many complete teams.
Cesar Chavez Sectional
Division I - Liberty managed to dominate, probably as expected, the girls race. You could make a case that Xavier College Preparatory should have been the girls favorite for Division I, but I believe the more realistic thinking from this season's results would be that Liberty was the favorite. And, they justified all the confidence heaped on their shoulders, winning with 25 points and claiming the first three individual places, led by Madeline Reeves. Everyone else played catch-up and, ultimately, lost. XCP did finish a solid second, however. Shadow Ridge was the only other team that managed to stay below 100 points. Over on the boys side, Trevor Querciagrossa continued his nice run of a season with a sectional title. Sunnyslope, however, just barely made the team cut into state. Team-wise, the meet belonged to Brophy College Preparatory--who has something to defend at this year's state meet--Shadow Ridge, and Liberty. That makes the top three teams in the sectional for boys something of a mirror image of the top three teams in the sectional for the girls. And, in both cases, all three teams kept it below 100 points and were the only teams to do so.
Division II - Agua Fria has come up for a lot of mentions in these articles this fall, but they did win the boys sectional title. They beat the DII cinderella team of Carl Hayden to get it done. Both teams, of course, advance to state. Oscar Gonzales of AF just barely won the individual crown. It was one of those down-to-the-wire affairs. Centennial was the lone remaining boys team to keep their score below 100. Nya Valenzuela claimed the girls title, but Deer Valley slipped to second, behind Centennial, in the team talley. Lake Havasu and Gila Ridge were as close at 3-4 as Centennial and Deer Valley were at 1-2.
Division III - Nate Pestka and Shadow Mountain did what they needed to do to set up for a big challenge at next week's DIII championship race. They came dominant and unscathed out of their sectional battle. Chino Valley managed a second, but it wasn't really that close. Over on the girls side, Erin Hooley of Fountain Hills took the win, but she will be running alone at state. In a sectional with no team taking clear charge of the results, Paradise Honors and Notre Dame Preparatory went 86-88 for the first two places.
Division I - We all knew what to expect, and Desert Vista's girls did not disappoint. They did, however, run without Katie Sigerud and that automatically becomes the genesis of some speculation where state is concerned. Lauren Ping still claimed the sectional title, and Bailee Christofis kept the #2 position in the DV camp, but being without Sigerud is a serious handicap to lay on this team. Perry was a distant second and Corona del Sol a still more distant third. DV appears to have run a mostly B team in the boys race. They still won easily with 39 points to 89 for second place Hamilton. The battle for second may have been the most intriguing part of this race, as Cibola and Chandler ran right on Hamilton's heels. Cibola got an individual title from Bennett Meyer-Wills.
Division II - Gilbert could still benefit from some closure on the 3-4 gap as state looms on the near horizon, but nobody here was close to being the equal of Terrence Keyes and company. Campo Verde, who has been running well this fall, ended up 36 points back of Gilbert with 95. The next three places got tight between Williams Field, Cactus Shadows, and Desert Mountain. Clara Jones gave Campo Verde the individual title for girls but, precisely as expected, Casteel had their way with the team field. Casteel's 35 were 60 points ahead of second-place Desert Mountain.
Division III - In the tightest sectional championship race of the weekend, Arizona College Prep's girls barely prevailed over ALA Queen's Creek and Saguaro. Evelynne Carr took the individual crown according to expectations, but cross country is about five places, not one. These three teams get another chance to settle scores next week as there wasn't much resolution coming out of this week. Caden Edgerton of ALA Ironwood won the boys team title, but it took a long time, and a lot of places, to settle the team score. Eventually, Saguaro edged Seton Catholic, 119 to 120 for the team title, but 119 points to the winner means we don't have a team in this sectional that stands head and shoulders, or even just forehead, above the rest.
Division IV - Ayla Young led Gilbert Classical to a sectional title. It's fun when you can snare both the team and individual titles, and GCA did that. Lincoln Preparatory Academy kept it close while running only five girls. Chandler Preparatory edged Valley Christian for the boys team title. Parker Stoft gave the CPA crowd both an individual and a team title. You don't need an accountant to tell you that's a nice result.
Hidden Cove Sectional
Division III - Cesar Diaz won, as expected, but his Mingus Union teammates won't be accompanying him to state. They missed that cut. Page came in as the team favorite and went home as the team title winner. The Sand Devils were efficient that way. Snowflake was a rather distant second and Holbrook third. Page, however, didn't have a complete girls team in the hunt. Coconino took the win there. Their margin over Chinle and Snowflake was convincing, but not prohibitive. Temyra Bia of Chinle added to her list of wins on the season with a sectional crown.
Divison IV - If winning by 90 seconds was what Jessica Madrid was supposed to do, she did exactly as expected. Northland Preparatory took out Ganado and Hopi for the girls team title. This is far from the first time in recent memory that Northland Prep has flexed some championship season muscle. Ganado, however, turned the tables on Northland Prep to claim the boys sectional title. BASIS Flagstaff was a very close third, setting up something of a team rematch at state. Individually, it was Micah Slivers going for yet another win. Hopi's boys made it back to state, but only by a narrow margin.
Rose Mofford Sectional
Division I - Even if you didn't know which sectional Highland belonged to, you could have it nailed down by process of elimination by now. While Elijah Davis stepped up for yet another win on his season, Red Mountain didn't have quite enough firepower this time around to keep Highland out of the team first-place position. But, it was close enough to provide something to think about for the week ahead. Mesa Mountain View was also close enough to count as a team of concern in the sectional team battle. Highland's margin was a good deal more comfortable on the girls side. In fact, the Hawks missed a perfect score by one point. That cues up a showdown for next week, but that's a topic for a later article. Mesa Mountain View and Red Mountain ran a distant second and third, but we should qualify "distant" by adding that both teams were under 100.
Division II - Flagstaff won, exactly as expected, easily. "Was that boys or girls?" you ask. To which the answer is both. The boys scored 15 points and the girls scored 23 points. Both are unbeatable totals. The 15, of course, is a perfect score. Mia Hall takes the girls crown; Lance Harris claims the boys crown. It would be agonizingly difficult for Flagstaff to be any more dominant than they were. Second place in the boys with 98 points, and settled by a tie-breaker over Ironwood, was Willow Canyon. Second place, and the only other team below 100, among the girls belonged to Millennium.
Division IV - A lot of DIV eyes were fixed on this region, and with good reason. Among the girls, Northwest Christian eked out the narrowest of victories over Glendale Prep, 50 to 52. Expect to see more of that next week. The individual title went to Taryn Janssen of Glendale Prep. And that's noteworthy, in part, because I'm pretty sure it's the first time her name has come up in one of these articles. It's a nice time to grab a headline. Jon Barney won the boys individual title--and he may well win next week, as well (though I wouldn't think it safe to count that a done deal yet). But the team battle between Northwest Christian and North Phoenix Prep played out yet again. And, yet again, Northwest Christian came out on top. You could say convincingly so. Veritas Preparatory Academy was a distant third, but still below 100.