All those hours spent on dusty desert trails under the hot Arizona sun are paying off for Eduardo Roa.
The senior from McClintock High School in Tempe built his cross country training regimen up from averaging around 40 miles a week at the start of the summer to as much as 55 miles by the time school had started.
That extra work paid off handsomely over the weekend when Roa won the boys’ senior division in the Chandler Cross Country Invitational.
It was a little after 10 o’clock before the seniors got their start, and the temperatures were rising quickly on the flat course at Tumbleweed Recreation Park. But Roa weathered the heat and managed to cover the 5,000-meter course that took the runners over grass, dirt, and asphalt in a winning time of 16:12.
He posted better times last year, including a 16:01 at the 5k Ojo Rojo Invitational and a 16:04 finish at the 3-mile Sole Sports event. But 16:12 is a good mark for this early in the season.
The Chandler XC Invite is generally one of the more interesting events for high school runners because, rather than follow the traditional format for cross country races, this one lets the runners compete just against others in their age group. Freshmen race against other freshmen, sophomores against sophomores, and so on.
Ironwood Ridge High School from Oro Valley and Perry High School from Gilbert enjoyed more success in the senior division than the others in the field of 38 teams that participated. Each school placed two runners among the top 10 finishers.
For Perry, Patrick Hardwick finished in 16:50 for fifth place and Cooper Molumby captured the eighth spot with a time of 17:08. Ironwood had two runners that hit almost a dead heat, as John Winfield took sixth place in 16:52 and David Olson was right off his shoulder to take seventh in a time of 16:56.
On the girls’ side, it was Highland High‘s Tory Haberman that crossed the finish line in 19:10 for the win. Teammate Emily Shaw wasn’t far off the pace, finishing in seventh place in a time of 21:13.
And Corona del Sol High School (Tempe) also placed two runners in the senior division’s top 10. Dani Lemieux took fifth in 20:43 and Hannah Lewis‘ time of 21:50 was good enough for a 10th-place finish.
The other winners in the girls’ competition included Dani Jones in the freshman division (Desert Vista HS /19:44), Courtney Goodrich in the sophomore race (Basha HS /19:09), and Brittany Tretbar in the junior division (Desert Ridge HS /19:47).
It was in the junior competition that Desert Vista showed its dominance, taking three of the top four spots. In addition to Tretbar’s first place, Jenna Maack finished in second (19:54) and Natalie Krafft came in fourth (20:28).
On the boys’ side, Marcus Wheeler took honors among the freshmen (Hamilton HS /17:03), Nate Rodriguez won the sophomore competition (Corona del Sol HS /16:29), and Ethan Homan from Cactus Shadows HS was the junior winner in a time of 16:48.
There were over 1,200 individual entries in this year’s race, which is in its 17th year, so there are ample opportunities for new talent to emerge at each level. As such, there wasn’t a single repeat winner in this year’s event.
(Photo: Chandler Invitational)