Paced by the individual championships of Steve Magnuson and Sarah Miville, Ironwood Ridge was able to capture the 5A-II cross country titles for both the boys and girls teams.

"As a coach, this was probably the most gratifying season I've had," said boys coach Gary Forrest. "Nobody predicted we'd win our third straight title."

Magnuson, arguably the second-fastest runner in Arizona high school cross country, won all his invitationals, save one, by wide margins, according to his coach.

"They weren't even close," Forrest said. Forrest had implied earlier in the season that Magnuson's only challenge might be by Brian Shrader of Flagstaff, possibly the state's best runner. They squared off at Queen Creek, where Shrader defeated Magnuson by about four seconds. It would be the only time Magnuson didn't finish first all season.

In addition to winning at state, Magnuson also won at regionals. He will be attending North Carolina next fall.

Miville's state title was a little more unexpected.

"She didn't run at regionals," Forrest said. "She peaked at the right time." The junior had an eight-second margin of victory at state.

As a team, the girls team captured one invitational, while the boys team finished second in one, and was third in two others.

"This is probably the strongest region in the state," Forrest said. "Rincon finished third and Sunnyside was fifth."

Allison Crawford fought for a top-five finish at state. The senior finished fifth with a time of 19:30.63.

"Her whole year was plagued by injuries," Forrest said. "She had a good meet at regions. 'Big Meet' Crawford, we called her."

Junior Lauren Cooper finished eighth among the girls. Junior Jill Magnuson and sophomore Emily Wilkinson had top-20 finishes, too.

On the boys side, sophomores David Olson and John Winfield finished in the top 20.

Despite losing Magnuson and Crawford, Forrest is looking forward to 2010.

"Our team is very young," Forrest said. "We lose Magnuson, but we think our other runners will be very good.

"As a coach, to see as hard as the freshmen worked (was gratifying). You hardly see the kind of effort we got from our freshmen this year."

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