State XC meets: Team-title streaks roll on

November 10, 2018 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

Flagstaff's Hana Hall prepares to cross the finish and take the D-II girls XC title along with helping her team to their fourth consecutive team title at Cave Creek Golf Course. (AzPreps365 photo).

It was a perfect day for cross country Saturday and five schools across the state used the opportunity to add more trophies to their cross country winnings at the state meets at Cave Creek Golf Course. All four boys divisions were won by the same school that won in 2017 or further back.

Topping the list was Flagstaff High, which four-peated in boys and girls in the morning in Division II. Northland Prep's boys won a second year in a row in D-IV. Then in the afternoon Page boys made it one for the thumb with a fifth title in a row in D-III. Desert Vista' boys closed the proceedings with a five-peat of its own.

There were eight races in all with the best individual battle taking place in the D-II boys race. There Cienega sophomore Ayden Schilb prevailed with a time of 16 minutes, 7 seconds. He bested runner-up Braedon Palmer of Sunrise Mountain by four seconds and four others who were within 10 seconds of the winning time.

Only a second or two separated the top runners at the two-mile mark. From there, this is how Schilb described it.

"The third mile everyone started going for it," Schilb said. "With about a half-mile left I started pushing the pace and then just tried to hold on for the last 400 meters."

Schilb took a little longer than most of the runners to recover from the hectic pace of the race, but getting the top medal a bit later soothed what ailed him for a few moments post-race.

Other individual winners in the morning races were North Phoenix Prep's Jordan Black (16:05 in the D-IV boys; St. Michael senior Ali Upshaw (18:18 in D-IV girls). Upshaw led St. Michael's charge to the team title in D-IV. The school's first title since 2002. Flagstaff's Hana Hall (18:07 in D-II) helped the Eagles to a narrow team-win over North Canyon. Flagstaff finished with 94 points and North Canyon 96.

Northland Prep's boys repeat was paced by Micah Stanton (4th), Hayden Andersen (5th),  Brandon Bounds (6th), Saior Starcher (10th) and Nalzheii Lonetree (12th).

            St. Michael wins its first girls title (D-IV) since 2002. (AzPreps365 photo)

The afternoon session comprised of D-I and D-III unveiled the only two repeat individual champions. Chaparral senior Abi Archer capped her career in the state with a third title in a row - the first two in D-II in 2016 and 2017. Archer clocked the best girls time of the day and seventh best overall at 17:56. That was eight seconds better than Chandler's Morgan Foster.

Xavier unseated Chandler as D-I champ with an impressive showing that featured  a 5-7-18-19-22 finish in a fairly tight four-team race for the top. It was Xavier's first title since 2012 in a decade dominated by Xavier, Desert Visa and Chandler in the team races in D-I.

Mia Olsen, Jamie Stelnik Grace Valandra, Karina Hawkins and Karina Smith scored for the Gators, who finished with 71. Chandler 93 was next followed by Highland with 105 and Desert Vista 120. Chandler

The next race was D-III girls and Rio Rico senior Samantha Schadler repeated with a time of 18:01. That marked the sixth year in a row a Schadler won the D-III title. Samantha's older sister, Allie, won four in row from 2013-2016. Salpointe Catholic won its second title in three years displacing Ganado as team champ. The Lancers (66 points) easliy outdistanced runner-up Prescott (129) with Ganado (145) third. Zoey Delgado (3rd ovearall) led the way followed by Lexi Lambert (7th), Laurel Froehlich (18th), Tayler Thomas (19th) and Katie Kelly (26th).

Page's fifth title in a row came with a bonus as senior Bowen Martin led the Sand Devils' effort with medalist honors, the first time a Page runner has won the individual title since 2003. Page was the only school on the day to go 1-2-3 in its winning finish. Morgan Fowler followed Martin and Trent Holiday followed Fowler.  Martin's winning time of 16:02 was the best of the day in boys races.

The best battle for a team title took place in the final race of the day -- D-I boys. It was expected to be a battle among Desert Vista, Highland and Brophy Prep. Desert Vista and Highland ended up the real combatants as the race was tighter than any with a few seconds separating the top 20 runners even over the first two miles.

              Desert Vista's  Sammy Van Alstine hits the tape leading a 5th title in a row for the Thunder (AzPreps365 photo)        

Highland seemed to be the leader heading to the final mile, but Desert Vista finished with a flare taking individual honors (junior Sammy Van Alstine) and taking three of the top four spots to top Highland. Desert Vista finished with 31 points and Highland 41. The teams had 11 of their 14 runners earn medals (top-20 overall finish). Forty-one points would normally win a state title, but not in this race.

Van Alstine, with a winning time of 16:03, edged defending champ and Highland junior Leo Daschbach by four seconds.

"This feels great," Van Alstine said. "I'm tired. We trained hard lately doing a lot of hills to prepare for this course. We were shooting to beat Highland and just stayed back and made push the last 400 or so."