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Sat, Dec. 14

Mingus girls 9th at state cross country

Sophomore twins Claire and Aubrey Peterson finished in the 56-57th spots, respectively, in 21:55 and 21:57, at Saturday's Division 3 state cross country championship race. As a team, the Mingus girls finished 9th in the state. VVN/Dan Engler

Sophomore twins Claire and Aubrey Peterson finished in the 56-57th spots, respectively, in 21:55 and 21:57, at Saturday's Division 3 state cross country championship race. As a team, the Mingus girls finished 9th in the state. VVN/Dan Engler

PHOENIX – It’s often said that the road to the small schools Arizona State Cross Country Championship runs through the northern region.

Also known as Division 3 and 4, Section IV, northern teams have dominated the state championship race for decades.

Saturday’s 2019 edition of the Arizona State Championship race was no exception.

That was especially true in the Girls D3 championship race where Mingus finished 9th among the 24 teams contending for the state title.

Seven of the top 10 teams in the girls D3 race came from the northern Section IV division, led by Prescott, which won with a low score of 75 points. That was just 4 points better than runner-up Tucson Salpointe, which was led by individual champion Zoey Delgado, who covered the 5-kilometer circuit in 18-minutes, 40.9 seconds.

For the Mingus girls, the competition was largely identical to what the Marauders contested one week earlier in the Section IV championships. Section IV rivals Ganado, Snowflake and Chinle grabbed the 3-4-5 team spots, while Tuba City, Coconino and Mingus finished in the 7-8-9 spots.

Once again, Mingus was led by freshman standout Makena Bliss, who finished 27th in the field of 178 runners in 20-minutes, 54-seconds.

Another freshman, Maisie Babcock, finished 49th overall in 21:43, while sophomore twins Claire and Aubrey Peterson finished in the 56-57 spots, respectively, in 21:55 and 21:57. Mingus’ final scoring runner, freshman Safiya Sweeney, finished 107th in 23:20.

Mingus’ only upperclassmen, seniors Josey Valenzuela and Keeleigh Kreiner, ran just 4 and 8 seconds, respectively, behind Sweeney.

In the boys D3 race, northern teams captured six of the top 10 places with Page claiming its sixth consecutive state championship with a low score of 62. Rio Rico’s Roshan Tinoco-Miranda was the individual D3 winner with a 15:53 clocking over the 3.1-mile course.

In the boys Division 4 race, northern teams claimed 5 of the top 10 spots, but none could top overall team winner North Phoenix Prep, which won with a low score of 55, 40 points better than perennial powerhouse Hopi High School. North Phoenix Prep’s Jordan Black won the individual title in 15:26.

On the girls side in Division IV, four northern teams finished in the top 10 with St. Michael’s Indian School dominating the field with a winning low score of 37 points. St. Michael’s Ali Upshaw, one of the best prep runners in the nation, won the girls individual title by more than a minute with a 17:49 clocking over 5-kilometers.

In the big school divisions, the Division 2 team titles in both the boys and girls races were claimed by Flagstaff High School for the fifth consecutive year.

The Flagstaff girls, led by defending state champion Hana Hall (18:15), won with a low score of 53 points. The Flagstaff boys won the D2 team title with a low score of 77 points. Kenny Edwards of Campo Verde won the individual race in 15:58.

The Division 1 team titles were claimed by Gilbert Highland (39 points) on the boys side and Desert Vista (49 points) in the girls race.

Gilbert Highland’s Leo Daschbach won the individual D1 title in 15-minutes, 27-seconds. The girls D1 race saw Desert Vista sister duo Lauren Ping and Grace Ping finish 1-2 with respective times of 17:36 and 17:57.

There is one more week of running for the best of the best in Arizona at this weekend’s Nike Cross Nationals Southwest Sectionals in Casa Grande. The top runners in that race will advance to the Nike-sponsored national championship race.

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