PRESCOTT -- A few years ago, Mingus Union High School had a runner named Alfredo Jaimes. He was so tough on hill workouts that a Mingus coach told the team that if they had an uphill race, Jaimes would be a state champion.
Fast forward to the present: Mingus sophomore Meg Babcock obviously is cut from the same mold as Jamies. She proved it Saturday in the Ray Wherley Invitational cross country race at Embry Riddle University.
Babcock turned in the top performance of the day for Coach Katie Wolff's Marauder squad, claiming a fourth-place finish in the No. 2 race of the day.
The format for the Ray Wherley Invitational pitted each team's seeded runner in an individual race. All No. 1 runners raced against each other in one race; ditto for each team's number 2 through 7 runners.
"Meg Babcock's fourth-place finish was excellent," said Coach Wolff. "She passed several runners in the second half of the race due to her diligence in hill training. She refused to let herself slow down on the ups and she used the downs to her extreme advantage."
Overall, with the times from every race combined, Babcock turned in the 12th fastest time of the day among the 54 girls who ran Saturday. Babcock covered the 5-kilometer course in 24-minutes, 48 seconds. Just three places behind her overall was Mingus junior Hannah DeVore, who ran a 25:13.
On the boys side, with 77 runners competing, Mingus' Ryan Alexander turned in the Marauders' top performance of the day. Alexander, a senior, was 20th overall with a 19:30 clocking over 3.1 miles. Jon Ulibarri, a junior, was 36th overall in 20:24 and sophomore Cody Wager finished in the 54th slot with a time of 21:55.
"Cody Wager's time was great," noted Wolff. "Though he ran a fast time for him he felt he needed to work harder so proceeded to run 14 more miles this weekend. His work ethic is awesome."
Wolff also cited the performance of freshman John Valentine in the junior varsity race. "He will be one to watch as he gets older," Coach Wolff said.
The Mingus runners head north for the second time this season Saturday to compete in the talent-rich Four Corners Invitational Saturday at Flagstaff's famed Buffalo Park course.
Other remaining meets for the Marauder runners include:
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
Elsewhere in Arizona
The most impressive weekend prep cross country performances occurred Friday under the lights at Tucson's prestigious Desert Solstice Invitational at the Crooked Tree Golf Course.
Rio Rico three-time defending state champion Allie Schadler proved why she earned a Dye State top three in the nation pre-season ranking by covering the 5K course in 17-minutes, 1-second, to forge an 18-second win over Xavier Prep senior Sarah Carter.
Perhaps even more impressive than Schadler's individual performance was the team effort by powerhouse Desert Vista High School, which saw its top 5 girls post times ranging from a best of 17:49 by junior Haley Wolf to a No. 5 time of 18:17 by senior Amanda Davis. That's a 28-second gap between the No. 1 and 5 runners. This could be the best girls' high school team in America.
Also noteworthy at the Desert Solstice meet was the performance of Central High School's Aron Orar. Only a junior, Orar covered the 3.1-mile course in 15:33 to put 8 seconds between himself and the second-place runner.
Two days later, he had enough left in the tank to cruise to an easy win (by nearly 3 minutes) in the Arizona Road Racers Endless Summer 10K at Rose Mofford Park with a 34:16 clocking.
Keep your eye on him. He looks like a good one..