This fall the Snowflake High School boys cross-country team matched what no Lobo team has done in 50 years. And the Snowflake girls did what no Lady Lobo squad had ever done.
And what is most striking is that the achievements occurred in what has been the most competitive of all the fall high school sports.
Snowflake posted five runners in the top 26 for the state runner-up trophy at the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Division 3 state championships at Gilbert’s Cross Roads Park on Nov. 12.
The Lobo girls, with three of the top 14 finishers, were third overall in the team standings – the best finish at state in program history.
With just four divisions of cross country in the state, Snowflake competed against a number of traditional powers in distance running, although all the teams in divisions 3 and 4 on the Navajo Reservation and Fort Apache Indian Reservation postponed their season until the spring of 2021.
“Overall the sport is very competitive and the casual runner gets lost in the competition,” Snowflake head cross country coach Lynn Johnson stated in an email.
“With the reservation schools not competing and with students in Tucson transferring to popular running schools it made the competition greater in some aspects this year. The four-time defending state champion team, Page, ran against us only twice this year. You could not win with two or three good runners. All seven runners had to be competitive. We would have won state five years ago if my athletes ran the times we were able to run this year,” said the coach.
The Snowflake boys were led at the state meet by junior Caleb Anson, who was ninth in the 5K race with a time of 16 minutes, 27.7 seconds. Senior Kaden Clark was 12th with a 16:39.5. They finished about a minute behind race winner RoshanTinoco-Miranda, a senior from Rio Rico.
The Lobo girls were led by eighth-place finisher Alyssa Hall, a junior. She finished with a time of 20:13.7. Hallie Nichols, a junior, finished 11th and senior Caitlyn King was 14th. Tucson Salpointe Catholic sophomore Kylie Wild won the race with a time of 18:37.3.
While social distancing during the pandemic hindered summer workouts and practice for most sports, distance runners were able to train for the 2020 season more like they normally would – on their own.
“To develop a good program is difficult in that it requires a lot of time. This is true for any sport,” Johnson stated. “Athletes that are distance runners will put in four to six miles a day and a longer run on the weekend just to be able to be competitive.
“I would send the athletes a workout that they would do every week over the summer,” stated the coach. “The athletes that were most successful in the program were those that were most diligent in the summer program. Kaden, Caleb, Trevor (Williams), Noah (Fish) and Trey (Flake) are very talented but were also very diligent in the summer program. Alyssa, Hallie, Mignon (Ritz), were also diligent to get their summer workouts in. Caitlyn, Ryleigh (Smith), Cammie (Weech), and Maggie (Shumway) also worked hard and made great contributions to the team. They have all put in time and effort to be better runners.”
All state qualifiers from the White Mountain area finished among the top two-thirds in the finishing order, an indication of the tough North Section they compete in.
“I give tribute to all the cross country athletes on the mountain and have great respect for their dedication to the sport,” Johnson added.
At the sectional meet on Nov. 5 at Phoenix Rose Mofford Sports Complex, the Lobos won the boys team championship – believed to be the first title for a Snowflake boys team since 1983 (Lady Lobos won a region title in 1993).
The Snowflake girls were second to Flagstaff Coconino at sectionals.
“I am excited to have several of our top runners coming back next year,” Johnson said. “I am excited to see this group of athletes compete in the track season.”
Arizona Interscholastic Association
Division 3 Cross Country Championships
At Gilbert Cross Roads Park
Boys team scores — 1. Tucson Salpointe Catholic 57, 2. Snowflake 68, 3. Page 80, 4. Phoenix Shadow Mountain 157, 5. Prescott 167, 6. Thatcher 181, 7. Sahuarita Walden Grove 182, 8. Kingman Lee Williams 196, 9. Chino Valley 296, 10. Glendale Cactus 297,
11. Scottsdale Saguaro 312, 12. Goodyear Estrella Foothills 336, 13. Amer. Leadership - Ironwood 338, 14. Phoenix AZ College Prep 365, 15. Chandler Seton Catholic 370, 16. Tucson Empire 375, 17. Amer. Leadership - Gilbert 393, 18. Queen Creek Benjamin Franklin 450.
No score (teams with two runners or fewer): Rio Rico, Peoria, Phoenix Notre Dame Prep, San Tan Valley Combs, Blue Ridge, Winslow, Tucson Palo Verde, Phoenix St. Mary’s, Cottonwood Mingus, Scottsdale Barry Goldwater, Safford, Florence, Flagstaff Coconino, Gilbert Christian, Tucson Sabino, Mica Mountain, Tempe Marcos de Niza, Tucson Tanque Verde, Queen Creek San Tan Foothills, Coolidge, Show Low, Phoenix Moon Valley.
Boys 5K top 25 and local finishers (151 participants) — 1. Roshan Tinoco-Miranda, Sr., Rio Rico 15 minutes, 32.4 seconds, 2. Gilbert Olivas, Sr., Cactus 15:47.2, 3. Trent Holiday, Sr., Page 15:53.4, 4. Abraham Valenzuela, Sr., Palo Verde 16:01.1, 5. Rex Martin, Sr., Page 16:14.4, 6. Johnathon Lane, Sr., Walden Grove 16:15.9, 7. Lisandro McCarter, Jr., Prescott 16:19.2, 8. Pierce Vittone, Sr., St. Mary’s 16:23.9, 9. Caleb Anson, Jr., Snowflake 16:27.7, 10. Diego Veliz, Soph., Salpointe 16:30.4,
11. Michael Urbanski, Soph., Salpointe 16:30.4, 12. Kaden Clark, Sr., Snowflake16:39.5, 13. Nate Pestka, Jr., Shadow Mountain 16:42.5, 14. Wyatt Pickering, Fr., Lee Williams 16:47.3, 15. Diego Martin-Valdez, Sr., Salpointe 16:50.1, 16. Ethan Rodriguez-Story, Sr., Saguaro 16:50.2, 17. Diego Logan-Behshad, Jr., Salpointe 16:51.1, 18. Trevor Williams, Sr., Snowflake 16:56.2, 19. Cesar Diaz, Soph., Mingus 16:57.1, 20. John Harris, Jr., Salpointe 17:00.7,
21. Quentin Davis, Soph., Page 17:01.8, 22. Trey Flake, Soph., Snowflake 17:13.2, 23. Kyle Vonnahme, Sr., Peoria 17:15.2, 24. Evan Grawer, Fr., Notre Dame 17:16.5, 25. Derek Berringer-Smith, Jr., Thatcher 17:18.0, 26. Noah Fish, Sr., Snowflake 17:18.4, … 38. Steven Halls, Soph., Blue Ridge 17:46.1, …
80. Garret Craner, Soph., Snowflake 18:38.3, … 86. Alexander Atkinson, Jr., Blue Ridge 18:42.1, … 90. C.J. Serrano, Soph., Show Low 18:46.2, … 100. Heber Espinoza, Sr., Snowflake 19:05.3
Girls team scores — 1. Salpointe Catholic 68, 2. Coconino 71, 3. Snowflake 83, 4. Amer. Leadership - Queen Creek 108, 5. Saguaro 139, 6. Rio Rico 168, 7. Prescott 177, 8. AZ College Prep 184, 9. Thatcher 219, 10. Surprise Paradise Honors 255,
11. Payson 271, 12. Chino Valley 289, 13. Notre Dame Prep 332, No score (teams with three runners or fewer): Mingus, Gilbert Christian, Page, Amer. Leadership - Ironwood, Estrella Foothills, Shadow Mountain, Moon Valley, Empire, Combs, Tanque Verde, Sabino, Sahuarita, St. Mary’s, Blue Ridge, Florence Poston Butte, Holbrook, Safford, Douglas, Seton Catholic.
Girls 5K top 25 and local finishers (114 participants) — 1. Kylie Wild, Soph., Salpointe 18 minutes, 37.3 seconds, 2. Evelynne Carr, Soph., ALA-QC 18:37.5, 3. Ryley Nelson, Fr., Gilbert Christian 19:19.3, 4. Cathron Donaldson, Soph., Coconino 19:39.0, 5. Wheaten Smith, Soph., Coconino 19:50.7, 6. Ashley Brewer, Sr., ALA-QC 19:52.6, 7. Isabel Brady, Soph., AZ College Prep 20:02.6, 8. Alyssa Hall, Jr., Snowflake 20:13.7, 9. Jade Reid, Fr., Page 20:14.8, 10. Talya Workman, Fr., ALA-QC 20:17.7,
11. Hallie Nichols, Jr., Snowflake 20:24.7, 12. Maria Fernanda Ruiz, Jr., Salpointe 20:24.9, 13. Maisie Babcock, Soph., Mingus 20:25.3, 14. Caitlyn King, Sr., Snowflake 20:25.6, 15. Adelle Boxberger, Jr., Paradise Honors 20:27.3, 16. Makena Bliss, Soph., Mingus 20:39.2, 17. Cara Super, Sr., Shadow Mountain 20:39.7, 18. Zoe Sather, Soph., Coconino 20:40.6, 19. Makayla Engelhardt, Sr., Combs 20:42.4, 20. Bella Caldwell, Soph., Salpointe 20:47.7,
21. Mary Evans, Jr., Saguaro 20:50.4, 22. Avrille Giron, Jr., Rio Rico 20:52.6, 23. Carmen Kathol, Soph., Saguaro 20:53.9, 24. Aubrie Mercer, Sr., Payson 20:54.0, 25. Akasha Ashley, Jr., Coconino 20:55.1, …
35. Ryleigh Smith, Soph., Snowflake 21:13.2, … 39. Cammie Weech, Sr., Snowflake 21:25.0, … 50. Anilee LeSueur, Jr., Blue Ridge 21:46.7, 57. Abigayle Nez, Jr., Holbrook 21:52.6, … 65. Rachel Pitts, Jr., Snowflake 22:10.8, … 78. Maggie Shumway, Sr., Snowflake 22:39.9.