For those high schools in Arizona’s 6A conference that were hoping last year’s state cross country title win by the Chandler High School girls signaled the end to the domination in recent years by Desert Vista High, the news isn’t good.
After finishing third at last year’s state meet, the Thunder are back. Desert Vista’s girls’ team had won the 2013 and 2014 titles, were nationally-ranked last year, and the favorite going into the championship event.
But Chandler High School pulled off the big surprise last year, winning the state title with 46 points. And Xavier Prep nosed out the Thunder for second place with 51 points, just five ahead of Desert Vista.
This year, Desert Vista has an even stronger argument for again making it the favorite.
The Thunder are again nationally-ranked, this time the No. 3 team in the country according to the latest DyeStat rankings. And they are heading toward season’s end with a ton of momentum after a couple of major high-profile victories.
They won the Woodbridge Classic in California, one of the biggest tournaments in the country, during the last weekend of September. Four Desert Vista runners finished among the event’s top 11 placers, and all five among the top 22, in a dominant team performance that resulted in a 23-point margin over second-place Great Oak HS of California.
DV’s Haley Wolf won that event with a time of 16:40.9 over the 3.1-mile course.
A week later, the Thunder ran away with the Desert Twilight Invitational team title in Casa Grande, another event that draws top teams from Arizona, as well as out of state. This year, the Girls’ Sweepstakes race had a field of 161 participants.
Allie Schadler, a senior from Rio Rico High School, a small school in the Santa Cruz Valley of Arizona, won the event, but Desert Vista placed five runners in the top 15.
Wolf finished in 12th place with a time of 18:00.9, but that was just third-best on the team. Baylee Jones clocked a 17:38.5 for seventh place, while Brooklyn Christofis was just off her shoulder crossing the finish line to secure eighth place in a time of 17:38.9. Emily Crall, who was state runner-up last year, came in 14th and Amanda Davis finished 15th.
Jones was a runner-up for the 2014 state title, but fell to a disappointing 16th-place finish last year. But this year should be a comeback for the senior, who has been a major factor in Desert Vista’s rise in the rankings this year.
The time she ran at Desert Twilight was her personal best, so she’s peaking at the right time.
And so is her team.