Last year, Xavier Prep kept their top five runners home and it cost the Gators the team title at the Doug Conley Cross Country Invitational. Desert Vista High School edged them out, winning the 2010 team title by just two points.
This year, Xavier sent a skeleton crew again to the event, keeping its top half-dozen runners on ice, but it was enough to win the event. The Gators scored 49 points for a comfortable margin of victory over runner-up Highland High School, which totaled 93.
Xavier’s finishers included Jessica Malloy in third with a time of 19:16.55, followed by Shelby Brown (9th), Savannah Gaffney (11th), Shannon Molvin (12th), and Julianne Vice (14th).
Alhambra High School, which won the boys team title last year, didn’t even show up for this year’s event, the 39th running of one of the more prestigious cross country invites in the state.
Highland’s boys’ team accomplished what the girls couldn’t this year, taking the title with 106 points. Mountain View HS (Mesa) and Chinle High were awarded a tie for second place, with each team compiling 124 points.
As it turns out, Alhambra’s point total of 147 last year wouldn’t have been good enough for even a top-five finish this year.
Highland’s David Graham was the team’s top finisher, coming in ninth with a time of 16:37.41, followed by teammates Logan Woolf (12th) and Mannie Aguilar (19th).
It’s not unusual for teams to rest their best runners before competing at sectionals and the state competition in a couple of weeks. Sometimes they skip the invite altogether, or send a squad that doesn’t include all the top talent.
The event, which is run over the Rolling Hills Golf Course in Tempe, provides a final opportunity for many of the schools to tune up for the sectionals, or give runners who haven’t competed much during the regular season a chance for one more outing.
But this wasn’t the case with the individual winners this year, as both the boys and girls titles went to a couple of the top cross country runners in Arizona. Both compete for Chinle.
Rolonda Jumbo won the girls individual title with a time of 18:26.26 and Johnathan Yazzie won the boys side by finishing in 16:06.48.
Chinle finished third in the boys’ team competition and sixth on the girls’ side.