Highland, Corona first-time winners at Doug Conley Invite

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                </div>The tradition lives on at the Doug Conley Cross Country Invitational. After Alexandra Schadler and Nathan Rodriguez won the individual titles over the weekend in the 41st edition of the […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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The tradition lives on at the Doug Conley Cross Country Invitational.

After Alexandra Schadler and Nathan Rodriguez won the individual titles over the weekend in the 41st edition of the Conley, there still has never been a repeat winner in the top division of this premier high-school event.

Schadler, a freshman from Rio Rico High School, won the girls’ individual elite competition with a time of 18:59.  Rodriguez, a senior from Corona del Sol High School, squeezed out a win on the boys’ side, crossing the finish line in 15:55 – six seconds ahead of teammate Marcus Wheeler.

Actually, a fresh face in the winner’s circle was inevitable this year.  Last year’s winner in the girls’ competition, Dani Jones from Desert Vista High, didn’t compete and the boys’ winner, Andy Trouard (Salpointe Catholic) graduated.

It’s not unusual for schools to keep some of their top runners out of the Conley, electing instead to rest them before competing at sectionals and the state competition coming up within weeks.  On the other hand, it gives many teams a final opportunity to tune up for the sectionals, or give some of their runners who haven’t competed much during the regular season a chance for one more outing.

The 5K course at Rolling Hills Golf Course also provides a different type of challenge than most venues.  The Tempe golf course gets its name from lots of small hills that dot the landscape, making it more difficult to navigate than the flatter courses most common during the season.

There were also first-time winners in the team elite competition, as Corona del Sol won on the boys’ side to wrest the crown from Rio Rico High School, and Highland High took the girls’ event for the first time to replace Xavier Prep as the new title holder.

Corona’s win comes as no surprise since the Aztecs haven’t lost an invitational all season.  They posted the 1-2 finish by Rodriguez and Wheeler – and then were less than a second away from a sweep of the top three spots.  Teammate Ryan Normand took fourth with a time of 16:08.00, finishing just off the shoulder of Tuba City High‘s Anthony Masayesva (16:07.94).

Tuba City took runner-up team honors this year with 113 points, well off the pace of 56 points set by Corona, and Page High School took third with 135 points.

The Highland girls’ team score of 77 points was enough to hold off Xavier, which finished runner-up with 93 points.  Well behind the leaders was Corona del Sol, finishing in third with 141 points.

Schadler, who won the Chandler Invitational earlier in the season, won by six seconds, but the next two spots were decided by a photo-finish thin margin of .01 seconds.  Highland High‘s Lauren Ellsworth crossed the line in 19:06.00, followed by Alice Jensen from Mesquite High School in 19:06.01.

(Photo: Margot Kelly/Milesplit Arizona)