Aftershock takes steps toward becoming elite at USATF state cross country race

The Aftershock Distance Club poses with their hardware following the USATF Junior Olympic Arizona Cross Country State meet. Photo courtesy of Aftershock Distance Club

The Aftershock Distance Club poses with their hardware following the USATF Junior Olympic Arizona Cross Country State meet. Photo courtesy of Aftershock Distance Club

After nearly a month between races, the Aftershock Distance Club returned to action in dominant fashion at the USATF Junior Olympics cross-country Arizona State meet, with three individuals taking top-honors, a first for the club.

"[The break] was really nice," said sophomore Megan Goettl. "It gave me a chance to regroup myself, almost, and prepare myself for the whole change of pace for the USATF meets."

The races, held in Avondale at Friendship Park, were on Nov. 16. There were many different runs, depending on age group, including the 4,000- and 5,000-meter runs, in which Aftershock competed.

Freshmen Allyson Arellano and Chris D'Angelo, and Goettl all won their races with time to spare in either the 13-14-year-old division (Arellano, D'Angelo) or the 15-16-year-old division (Goettl).

"I thought it was a big day," said Aftershock Head Coach Micah Swenson. "We had three individual winners (never had one before), so I can feel like some of our kids are moving from being really good toward being elite."

First up was Arellano and her 4K. The freshman navigated the course and finished in 16 minutes flat, 24 seconds ahead of second place Caroline McClelland and 25 other student-athletes.

"That was my goal, to win that race," Arellano said. "Swenson said that was a fast course, to get that mentality in our head that it was, although it wasn't."

Leading up to the race, head coach Micah Swenson led his team to believe that the course would be on the faster side. Much to their surprise, when they arrived at the park, the course was slower than expected, but it did not hinder them.

D'Angelo, also running in a 4K, burned his competition, leaving little doubt as to who the first-place runner was. The freshman flew through his 4K in 14:32, 43 seconds before Scottsdale's Andrew Burns crossed the finish line.

Aftershock had four members in the 5K. While not completely happy with her overall time, Goettl still took top-honors in a field of 11. The AIA state champion in the 1600 and 4X800 had plenty of space between her and second place. Goettl crossed the finish line in 19:55, 14 seconds ahead of Daangoiina Haven, from Window Rock.

"It was pretty cool," Goettl said. "I was a bit disappointed with my time, but other than that I was happy with it."

One part of the race that Goetll really liked was that the officials ran the boys and girls together. This gave the sophomore a faster group to pace her once she got ahead of the girls, and as she approached the finish line, more people to attempt to pass.

"I really like running with the boys because it gave me someone to go with when I was in front [of the girls]," Goettl said.

Now Aftershock travels to El Paso for the USATF Region 10 Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships. The race is on Nov. 23, and even though they are running against some of the best distance runners in the Southwest.\

"[My goal is to] go faster than my time last week, at the state meet," Arellano said. "It was a slow course, but also it was windy and kind of flatish. I hope to be able to use the hills, I know there's two hills [on the El Paso course], so I hope to be able to use that to go faster. I'd like to win the regional one too."

Goettl added that she would be happy with top-3, but "really wants to win it."

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