Alhambra High School still owns boys’ cross country in the state of Arizona, winning the Doug Conley Invitational to remain unbeaten this season.
And the dominant team on the girls’ side, Xavier Prep, kept its top runners home, giving Desert Vista High School the opening it needed to slip into the winner’s circle.
But Xavier still managed a second-place finish. That’s how deep this year’s Gators squad is.
The Desert Vista girls team (in photo) finished second to Xavier at last week’s Desert Twilight Invitational, hosted by Queen Creek HS, but took first place at the Conley. Xavier has been dominant this year, winning the Twilight by 59 points and placing five runners in the top 25.
Those five did not compete at the Conley, as Xavier is focusing instead on sending a more rested team to the state meet next month.
Desert Vista would likely have preferred to test themselves again against Xavier’s best, but are no doubt happy with their win at the Conley, which has been the premier regular-season meet for several decades. The Thunder had two runners finish in the top 10, Britany Tretbar in fifth (19:30.51) and Lauren Owens in 8th place (19:55.05).
As it was, the Thunder’s 76 points gave them a thin margin of victory over Xavier, which totaled 78 points, but still well ahead of third-place Highland HS, which compiled 125 points.
Both the girls’ and boys’ races were run right down to the wire, with mere seconds separating the first two finishers in each. On the girls’ side, Rolanda Jumbo from Chinle HS set a new course record, crossing the finish line in 18:34.8, and Aeoleone Bristow from Rio Rico HS took second place less than two seconds later. Kylee Kieser from Marcos de Niza HS came in third (18:58.60).
And, while Alhambra continues winning team titles, they don’t have an answer yet for Will Firth, the senior from Brophy Prep who has won four of the past five invitationals he has entered. He won the George Young Invitational last month, but finished fourth in the Desert Twilight Invite.
Firth took the Conley title in a time of 15:49 to lead Brophy to a third-place team finish, and Alejandro Valencia of Rio Rico HS came in second at 15:53. Jorge Martinez, who was Alhambra’s top finisher, finished in third in a time of 16:19.
Martinez was attempting to add a second Conley title to his resume, but stumbled – literally – in his attempt to get to the top. He won the Conley in 2008, but finished in second place last year.
The senior was in the group leading this year’s event when he tripped over a flag pole when moving into the second loop of the course at Rolling Hills Golf Course in Tempe. He recovered, but had to settle for a third-place finish.
Alhambra scored 147 points and had an average time of 17:02, enabling the Lions to win their first Conley team title. Desert Vista finished runner-up in the boys’ team competition with 156 points.
(Photo: az.milesplit.com/Margot Kelly))