Thirty-one seconds separated Chris D'Angelo from first place and all seven of the girls placed in the top-20 of their race, ending another strong performance from the Aftershock Distance Club, this time at the Desert Twilight Classic Saturday.
D'Angelo was running in his first race of the season with Aftershock. As the club prepared for the race, Aftershock head coach Micah Swenson was working with the freshman on his race form. When it was race time, D'Angelo shored up his arm form and was "clean and efficient," according to Swenson in a press release.
In Aftershock fashion, D'Angelo asserted his dominance and showed his potential as one of the best young runners in Arizona. Running in the male 15-to-19-year-old race, the 15-year-old ran the 5K in 18:46.74 in 2012, and this year, D'Angelo improved his race time by more than two minutes, finishing the 3.1 miles in 16:45.5. Not only was the time an improvement from his 2012 time, but the finish set a new personal best by 46 seconds and the time put D'Angelo firmly as the fourth fastest Arizona freshmen on the night, trailing Tuba City's Jaiden Melendez by 17 seconds. Melendez finished the Twilight Classic as the fastest Arizona freshman at the race, and won 2012's Jr. state meet.
"His time was a 5K personal best by 46 seconds and made him the 4th fastest Arizona freshman of the night, fifth fastest freshman overall," Swenson said. "The nice thing is Chris was only 17 seconds behind Jaiden's time, so we're getting close to where we want to be with him."
In the girls' 15-to-19-year-old race, seven runners represented Aftershock. All seven girls finished in the top-20, with freshman Allyson Arellano leading the way with a second place finish, 49th overall, time of 18:16.478.
The time put Allyson 39 seconds behind first place, and was the 13th fastest female high school runner at the Desert Twilight Classic. Based on her time, the only race that Allyson would not have won was the girls' sweepstakes race.
"Allyson keeps elevating her racing," Swenson said. "Her time of 18:16.4 was the 13th fastest of any high school girl last night, 8th fastest Arizona girl, and would have won every race other than the girls sweepstakes race by more than 30 seconds."
In addition to her time, Allyson set a new Aftershock record. The freshman ran a 5:53.7 mile pace, the first girl in her club's history to run a sub-6 minute mile pace.
"I was pretty pleased with the girls overall, everyone raced well," Swenson said. "After Allyson, Megan ran a 19:10.0, Rachel was 19:15.0, and Penny was 19:27.9. These times were good enough that we could have swept 1st-4th in the small schools varsity and big schools varsity divisions."
In total, Aftershock took eight runners to the race. Of the eight, seven set new PR's in the 5K, and the seven student-athletes that participated in the Twilight Classic in 2012 all improved their times in 2013.
"I was really pleased with how they took what we practiced and used it to not only race faster, but also cause other runners to make reactionary moves to try and stick with our runners," Swenson said. "We were able to run our race plan and force others to respond to it."
Aftershocks team goal is to be on the same level as the Desert Vista and Xavier High School cross-country teams. At the Classic, Desert Vista's girls' team took top honors in the sweepstakes with 61 points, followed by Xavier with 75 points.
Looking at the total team times, we are getting closer to where we want to be," Swenson said. "The Desert Vista and Xavier programs are the gold standard. To see (that) we had the fourth fastest Arizona girls' team ... lets me know we're getting closer to the elite level we're pursuing. All of these girls are only 8th graders, freshmen, or sophomores, so I'm very intrigued by the possibilities of what we can become."
Next up for the club is the Mesa Thunderbird Classic at Mesa Community College, on Oct. 12. This will be the second race this season the girls will run against college level athletes, and the first for D'Angelo. D'Angelo will be running in the 8K, and the girls in the 5K.