Hall, Keyes Dominate While Casteel Best Flagstaff

Terrence Keyes (middle) blew the doors open at the AIA State Meet on Saturday, as the fastest boy at Cave Creek Golf Course. (photo by John Hays)

For the first time in two years, the AIA State Championships were held at the legendary Cave Creek Golf Course in Phoenix, Arizona and boy did it deliver. Combined with the venue's hills and the sting of the Arizona's bone-dry November heat, the State Championship made the Saturday morning races highly formidable for even the opening half of the meet.

As the first race of the day, the Division II Boys contest delivered a nail-biting matchup between Seniors Logan Marek (Ironwood Ridge) and Terrence Keyes (Gilbert), ranked first and second in the State, respectively. Together while exchanging the lead, Marek and Keyes led the field over hill and dale, and then pulled away with a mile to go. At the finish line, spectators' building anticipation was met by a jubilant Terrence Keyes.

With a final look back at his twelve-second gap over Marek, Keyes threw his hands in the air and jogged through the finish line with an elated "Let's Go!" to celebrate the conclusion of a triumphant cross-country career for the Gilbert Tigers. Logan Marek finished runner-up as the only other boy to run sub-16 on the legendary Cave Creek Golf Course.

Noah Plaza (Williams Field, Sr.) came through in 16:07 for third, however it was the team battle was arguably even more contested than the individual title.

Early in the race, Gilbert, Flagstaff, and Ironwood Ridge were separated by only 19 points with Keyes and his teammate Javier Garcia (Sr.) firmly planted in the lead pack. In spite of not having raced at Cave Creek Golf Course in two years, the boys of Flagstaff executed their signature strategy to perfection and turned the tables on the competition after the mid-race hill.

Between Lance Harris (Sr.) and Cole Troxler (Fr.) picked off a combined eleven places as Flagstaff's top two guys, to finish fourth and ninth respectively, with only 56-second spread across their scoring varsity. Jason Lundgren (Cactus Shadows) would take the split-second edge over Garcia, both in 16:13.

In spite of Ironwood Ridge's efforts to close the gap, Flagstaff were able to hold them off with only five points separating the Champions of the north and south.

A year after losing the D2 Boys' Team Title, the Eagles had returned to Cave Creek in dominant fashion. Ironwood Ridge took the Runner-Up Team Title, followed by the Gilbert Tigers in third-place, with a whopping 102 points ahead of the competition.

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