Firth realizes dream with triumph at Conley Invitational

October 9, 2010 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

Will Firth was peeved at his sixth-pace finish last year at the Doug Conley Invitational.

The reason for such a mindset?

"The cutoff for getting a plaque was fifth," Firth recalled. "I remember it just made me mad I didn't finish a spot higher."

No need to worry about that plaque Saturday morning. The Brophy senior took home individual honors this time at the 38th Conley at Rolling Hills Golf Course in Tempe.

Firth edged Rio Rico senior  Alejandro Valencia by four seconds to claim the top spot. The boys team title went to defending 5A-I champion Alhambra as the Lions, led by two-time state champ Jorge Martinez, bested Desert Vista and Brophy. Alhambra scored 147, Desert Vista 156 and Brophy 170.

"This is one of my favorite races," Firth said. "I like the hills. Hiils are my bread and butter. My plan was to stay just behind the leaders and make my move when I thought the time was right.. It worked well today...

"Ever since my freshman year I've dreamed of winning this. To know my name will be listed with the past champions that have won is special to me."

Firth battled Valencia nearlly all the way and wasn't able to shake him. The two were tightly packed, but Firth was able to maintain a very slight lead all the way to the finish. Firth's winning time was 15 minutes, 49 seconds. It was a bit of revenge for Firth since Valencia finished just ahead of him last week at the Desert Twilight Invitational.

Martinez, who normally is right up with the leaders, was again Saturday until a mishap torpedoed his chance to win.

"I know Jorge would have been right up with us," Firth said. "On the second loop he tripped on a pole. That hurt him."  Martinez placed third, 30 seconds behind Firth.

Alhambra's veteran team placed three runners in the top 20. Jesus Bustillos and Ignacio Villalba were the others besides Martinez.

In the girls race, it came down to a north-south showdown between Chinle's Rolonda Jumbo and Rio Rico's Aeoleone Bristow. Jumbo, junior from the reservation school in northern Arizona, prevailed in new-course record time of 18 minutes, 34 seconds to nip Bristow, a senior from southern Arizona, by less than two seconds at the tape. The two went back-and-forth over the final mile and a half.

In the girls team competition the day belonged to Desert Vista as the Thunder edged  Xavier. Desert Vista finished with 76 points and Xavier netted 78. Thunder sophomore Brittany Tretbar (fifth) and freshman Lauren Owens (8th) cracked the top 10 to pace the victory.

Xavier, which ran without 5A state title favorite  Sarah Fakler and its usuall top lineup, turned in a nice performance in nearly winning. Desert Vista coach Doug Christofis, while pleased with the win, wasn't necessarily satisfied.

"We have some work to do," Christofis said. "We needed to step up and show we are a state contender. Show Xavier we're a contender and give them a run come state. We needed to set a tone. I don't think we did even though we won the meet."