Since 2007, three schools have been passing around the girls’ cross country state titles in Arizona’s top conference.
This year, it was Xavier Prep‘s turn to add the D-I state title to its already-bulging trophy case.
The small, all-girls high school in central Phoenix pulled away this year to post a team time of 1:39.26 and 71 team points to add its seventh championship in the last 12 years.
Xavier dominated the girls’ sport from 2007-12 when it won five straight D-I titles and this year returned to its place atop the mountain. During those 12 years, Desert Vista High won three titles and Chandler High was last year’s champion, and also won in 2015.
So it’s been a party of three for better than a decade.
This year, Chandler and Desert Vista were again right in the thick of it, vying to make this their turn. Chandler, which took last year’s title, finished runner-up with 93 points, and Desert Vista finished behind third-place Highland High (105 pts) with 120 points.
Xavier used a couple of top-10 finishes to pick up 12 points, with Mia Olsen leading the Gators with a fifth-place finish (19:09.15) and Jamie Steinik following close behind to post a 19:17.06 time for seventh place. Crossing the line in a tight grouping were Grace Valandra (20:07.45) in 18th place, Karina Hawkins (20:12.96) in 19th, and Karina Smith (20:18.68) in 22nd.
Chaparral High School wasn’t in the running for the title, finishing in sixth place with 181 points, but the Firebirds had something to celebrate as senior Abi Archer wrapped up an impressive prep career by securing her third straight state title, clocking a sizzling 17:56.22.
On the boys’ side, repeat titles have become commonplace lately. Every boys’ team that won a title this year, across all four divisions, are repeat winners.
But it was Desert Vista that burned up the winding course at the Cave Creek Golf Course, claiming three of the top four spots. Sammy Van Alstine led the way with a winning time of 16:03.08, while Lee Nasewylewa took third (16:09.20) and Travis Kearney (16:25.19) finished in fourth place.
Nasewylewa and Kearney are seniors and will move on next year, but Alstine is a junior. Alstine’s time was just fours seconds ahead of Highland High’s Leo Daschbach, who was trying to defend his 2017 title. Highland finished runner-up with a team total of 41.
The boys’ title is the fifth in a row for Desert Vista and the sixth in the last seven years.
In a few months, the rivalry between Chandler and Desert Vista moves to the oval track, where the boys’s teams from each school have hogged the state titles. Nearly every year since 2006, one or the other school has either been crowned boys’ champ or finished runner-up. The lone exception was 2013 when Brophy Prep broke through to win the D-I championship.
The Chandler girls’ track & field team doesn’t worry about rivalries. During that same 12-year span, they have relinquished the crown just once, in 2015 when Mountain Pointe edged the Wolves by seven points.