Leo Daschbach couldn’t have scripted a better senior season to close out one of the most honored high school cross country careers in Arizona history.
And he used Memorial Day weekend to add an exclamation mark to his remarkable legacy.
The Gilbert Highland High School graduate got off to a strong start to the 2019 cross country season by winning the Nike Desert Twilight cross country invitational, not only winning the race that draws runners from all across the nation, but setting a new event record. His time of 14:14.26 over the 5K course at the Grande World Sports Complex in Casa Grande was also good enough to place second nationally at that distance.
Had a recruiting trip to Colorado the previous week not kept him from competing in the Doug Conley Invitational, the other major event to open the prep season, Daschbach would have been favored to win that event as well. Instead, it gave his Highland teammate, Caden Resendez, the opportunity to bring home the Conley title for the school’s trophy case.
Daschbach’s final race of the cross country season, in the competition at state, propelled Highland to a landmark team victory as the Hawks broke a five-year championship reign by the Desert Vista HS boys’ teams.
Still recovering from a hamstring injury that kept him out of the sectional meet, Daschbach blew away the field in the state final, clocking a winning time of 15:27, which was just 24 second off the course record. It was just the second boys’ state title for Highland, the first coming eight years ago.
Led by Daschbach, who had also won an individual title as a sophomore, the Hawks posted a team total of 39 points, well ahead of Desert Vista, which finished runner-up with 65 points.
The icing on the cake came last Saturday in El Dorado Hills, Calif. That was where Daschbach wrapped up his storied prep career by winning the Quarantine Clasico at Oak Ridge High School — and reaching the Promised Land of all distance runners. He broke the four-minute mark with a time of 3:59.54.
That earned the youngster entry to a very exclusive club. Only 11 high school distance runners have cracked the 4-minute ceiling, and only four of those accomplished the feat in a high school-only event.
Daschbach now will head to Seattle where he will begin his college career at the University of Washington as one of the most elite high school distance runners in the country.
And arguably the best miler in the history of Arizona track.
(Photo: P. Corsinita/CA MileSplit)