Christopher Wuensch, CWuensch@ExplorerNews.com
Nov. 9, 2005 - There's no running from the boys and girls of Southern Arizona.
Squads from the Northwest and Foothills capped off the high school cross country season Nov. 5 by crowning two state champions and a state runner up Nov. 5 at the Cave Creek Golf Course in Phoenix.
The girls of Mountain View and Catalina Foothills high schools proved the best in their respective conferences, running to state titles.
A bout with a bug wasn't enough to keep Mountain View High School from ascending to the top of the state with a dominating performance from its boys and girls squads.
With its top runner on each side battling illness, Mountain View held off the likes of Sandra Day O'Connor and Flowing Wells high schools to stake its position in the Class 5A DII. The girls, led by a pair of freshman, cruised to a state title by nine points over O'Connor.
Chrissy Kellerman and Brittny Vaughn finished on each other's heels, four seconds apart, to claim fourth and fifth place overall, respectively. Following the freshman was Brooke Schmelter, eighth, Valerie Allegrezza, 22nd, Monet Golding, 24, Michaelina Sorrell, 44th, and Lisa Rickel, 57th.
"It was hard, but I wanted to do so well, I couldn't think about the pain," said Kellerman after the race.
Unable to run for the Mountain Lions was Marina Peterson, one of the squad's top runners. The sophomore was too weak from an illness to compete and was held out of the lineup by head coach Dennis Hansen. Peterson was one of three runners who held the team's No. 1 position throughout the year.
Sorrell replaced Peterson in the lineup and finished strong for the Mountain Lions.
"The girls stepped up," said Hansen whose team began training for the day in early May.
The conversion of the Class 5A into two divisions has suited Mountain View well. The state title for the girls is the program's first on any level. In 1992, the Mountain Lions finished runner-up in the 4A to Page High School, which swept the 4A Division II this year.
Battling a bug for the boys squad was Garrett Pfau, the team's No. 2 runner. Despite the senior's 47th place finish, Mountain View was able to pull off a third-place showing.
James Schow led the way with a third place finish. The junior needed 16 minutes, 57.90 seconds to cross the finish line.
The Mountain Lions tallied 120 points, 12 behind Shadow Mountain High School. Cross country scoring is a lot like golf, the lower the score the better. Runners are given points based on order of finish, and team scores are the total of all its runners.
A year ago, Andrea Crowe was playing volleyball in the state tournament for the Catalina Foothills girl's team. Due to scheduling conflicts, Crowe decided to join the cross country squad instead, despite having never run in the sport before.
On Nov. 5, the senior capped off her first and only year in cross country by winning the Class 4A Division I state title with a time of 20 minutes and 34.5 seconds. Crowe is a soccer player at heart, winning a state title last winter with Foothills.
"I didn't really think it would happen," said Crowe, while waiting to be awarded her medal. "Last year, if you asked me about the cross country team, I would have said, 'Who runs for fun?'"
Her first place showing helped the Falcons cruise to a team state title by 21 points over Ironwood Ridge High School. The championship was the second in the program's history and first since 1993.
Following Crowe was Leandra Treusch, 10th, Megan Carney, 13th, Martha McLeod, 17th, and Kylie Koepsal, 28th. The top 28 finishers receive medals, while the top 15 comprise the All-State team.
Foothill's boys team finished seventh overall and was led by Mitch Kessler who placed 10th.
Both boys and girls squads of Ironwood Ridge clocked in with runner-up titles. The girls were led by Kirsten Herrera, who finished 11 seconds behind Crowe in second place.
The boys edged out Thunderbird High School 125 to 129, 54 points behind state champ Greenway High School.
Nighthawk junior Michael Anderson was considered a favorite to win the event before an injury slowed him down. Anderson was leading through the first half of the race before severe cramping did him in. The junior slid to 20th overall.
"I could hardly move it hurt so bad," said Anderson.
Senior Nick Belock finished first for the Nighthawks with a 14th place showing.
The Canyon Del Oro High School boys team finished a slot behind Foothills in eighth overall.