FLAGSTAFF - There is no tougher way to open a cross country season than the Peaks Invitational.
Flush with reservation-rich running talent at 7,000-feet altitude at Flagstaff's famed Buffalo Park, this is not a soft-touch to begin your season.
The Mingus Union boys and girls teams learned that lesson Saturday. The Mingus boys team placed 12th among 18 teams in the elite "Ascent" race, while a short-handed Mingus girls team placed two runners among the top 40 finishers in a race that featured more than 120 runners.
For the boys, senior Ryan Alexander was Mingus' top finisher, coming in 22nd over the 5-kilometer course in 19:39. Greenway's Nathan Fockler took top individual honors with an 18:03 clocking. Junior Jon Ulibarri was the Marauders second runner across the line in 20:02, followed by senior Zack Peek (21:40), Andrew Cook (22:06) and Lucas Doerksen (22:28). Mingus' team average for the course was 21:11 and the Marauders had a 2-minute, 49-second gap between their first and fifth runners. The top teams in the state typically have a 1-to-5 gap of 45 seconds to a minute and a half.
For the Mingus girls, junior Hannah DeVore and sophomore Meg Babcock both competed in the elite "Ascent" race and turned in credible performances. DeVore, who is a hurdle-sprint specialist in the spring track season, shows impressive range as she clocked in at 24:07 for the 3.1 course for 32nd place. Babcock was 40th in 24:35.
Next up for Mingus:
Saturday, Sept. 10 @ Ray Wherley Invitational, Embry Riddle University
Saturday, Sept. 17 @ Four Corners Invitational, Buffalo Park, Flagstaff
Saturday, Sept. 24 @ Camp Verde Invitational, Camp Verde
Friday Sept. 30 @ Desert Twilight Invitational, Casa Grande
Saturday, Oct. 8, Bud Davis Invitational, Tuba City
Wednesday, Oct. 19, Yavapai County Multiple, Embry Riddle University
Friday, Oct. 28, Sectional Championships
Friday, Nov. 5, State Championships
Mingus alumni news
Also in Flagstaff Saturday, the state's best collegiate runners competed in the George Kyte Classic.
Former Mingus ace Jordan Bramblett debuted his 2016 season as the No. 1 runner for Embry-Riddle University. Bramblett, a sophomore, finished 24th among 100 runners in the George Kyte race, completing the 4.5-mile course in 24.59.
Another former Mingus standout, Monica Soliz, finished 75th overall in the women's division, covering the 2.6-mile course in 20-minutes, 13-seconds. Soliz competes for Benedictine University.
Rio Rico's Allie Schadler the best ever?
Last week, azmilesplit.com reported that Rio Rico senior Allie Schadler "will be back for her senior year to go for more records and establish herself as one of Arizona's all-time distance greats."
For the record, Schadler clearly already has established herself as "one of Arizona's all-time distance greats." About the only thing left for Schadler to accomplish is to distinguish herself as the state's best female distance runner ever.
Her credentials as one of the best in Arizona history include:
She is a three-time defending state champion in cross country.
She has never lost a state championship race on the track at 800, 1600 or 3200 meters.
Last season as a junior, she eclipsed the 5-kilometer state meet course record previously establish by Desert Vista's indomitable Dani Jones, now a sophomore at the University of Colorado.
As a junior, she ran sub-17-minute 5Ks twice. She only lost one race all season and that was to Colorado's Katie Rainsberger, who was the National high school champion in cross country and the American junior record holder for 3000 meters.
On the track, Schadler is the state's second fastest performer ever (behind Dani Jones) at 1600 meters (4:45), and one mile (4:43). She has only run 3200 meters twice in her high school career, yet still has the state's third-fastest time ever with a 10:16 clocking.
Arizona has a deep history of outstanding distance running talent among its prep female athletes and Schadler already has established herself as one of the best ever.
She arguably is the state's best-ever in cross country. On the track, she ranks with Desert Vista's Dani Jones (2015), Mountain Point's Sara Gorton (1999) and the legendary Kathy Gibbons (Phoenix Alhambra, 1970-72) as the best distance talent ever in Arizona.
Despite that pedigree, Schadler still will face tough competition this year in the Grand Canyon State. Desert Vista's Baylee Jones is a fierce competitor. Sophomore Morgan Foster of Chandler opened her season with a sub-19 5K and over the summer ran a blistering 2:07.06 for 800 meters.