WEST VALLEY PREPS

West Valley Preps' Glendale/Peoria cross country season preview

Posted 9/8/20

The high school boys and girls cross country season begins today at schools across the state.West Valley Preps , the Glendale Independent and Peoria Independent asked local high school coaches about …

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WEST VALLEY PREPS

West Valley Preps' Glendale/Peoria cross country season preview

Posted

The high school boys and girls cross country season begins today at schools across the state.
West Valley Preps , the Glendale Independent and Peoria Independent asked local high school coaches about their teams. Here are their responses:

Cactus Cobras

Boys and Girls Coach: Richard Levan (4th year boys, 2nd year girls)
Section: Division III Metro
Who are your top returning runners?
Boys: My top returning runners for the boys are senior Gilbert Olivas, who is ranked on MileSplitAZ as No. 6 in the state for returning boys. Junior Alex Murphy, sophomore Isaiah Saenz, Senior Nate Black and junior Garrett Armstrong, who was ranked as the No. 1 most improved runner in the state on MileSplitAZ.
Girls: On the girls side, there is junior Megan Arganbright and sophomore Kaylee Mercurio.
Who are some of the newcomers that may have an impact this year?
• Boys: Of my 11 boys, six of them are freshman. I have seen a lot of growth from them over the summer. They have been kind of been thrown into the fire, but have responded wonderfully. Jack and Joseph Murphy, Matt Black, Alex Yowell, Blake Lowe and Schyler Beulsema all have the chance to step up and fill out the last two varsity spots.
Girls: We are a small team, smaller than I expected before things changed as they have. Not being on campus has really hurt recruiting freshman, especially girls. Tadem Tapia just started but is showing promise.
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? I would say the best attribute of the team is their closeness and dedication. During the off and on phases this summer, where I was not allowed to be there with them, then for two weeks I could and then for three weeks I couldn’t. Gilbert, Alex and Garrett really kept everyone together to keep training. Because of that leadership and the willingness of the parents to get them there to keep running, the team really didn’t lose valuable training time. Also they never lost focus or hope. There was a time where it looked like there was not going to be a season but they didn’t get discouraged. They knew the season was going to look different but as long as they had a chance to compete, they were going to be ready.
What are the primary individual and team goals?
• Boys: I think the boys team has the potential to compete for a sectional title. If a couple of them really step up maybe even top five at state. Gilbert should be in contention for the state title individually, though there is stiff competition.

Deer Valley Skyhawks

Boys and Girls Coach: Kevin Riegle (Second year as head coach)
Section: Division II Metro
Who are your top returning runners?
• Boys: Randy Espinoza is coming off a state runner up placing and is hungry for the opportunities he might have at state this year. Matthew Kuczora is also a senior leader looking to crack the top 20 at state. Parks Cruz is beginning his senior year and has been putting in solid work this summer also.
Girls: So far Nya Valenzuela, Rylee Jensen and Emma Axness, and Jocelyn Esquerra have been looking good in workouts.
Who are some of the newcomers that may have an impact this year?
Boys: Micah Horney is attempting to participate in both swim and Cross Country. He is new to the sport and could really help our team this year.
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Our team has good character kids. I love going to practice and being around these kids. They are working through the adversity and it will be good to get them back in competition. We have had to change the way we do things because of Covid-19 and the kids have responded well.
What are the primary individual and team goals? We want to perform our best at districts, sectionals, and state. If they can be consistent with their training through the mess that we are in right now, and run their best at those three meets, that’s all we can ask. Randy would like to make a run for a state championship this season after getting inched out by Kenny Edwards last year at the state meet. He has had a great summer of training and looks fantastic. Nya Valenzuela should make a push to medal at state on the girls side. I hope we can stay healthy and turn 2020 around for these kids one race at a time.

Ironwood Eagles

Girls Coach: Terra Dodge (15th year as head coach)
Section: Division II Northwest
Who are your top returning runners? Sophomores Kaleigh March-Banks, Katie Dillon and Korah Deneen
Who are some of the newcomers that may have an impact this year? Haven’t had our first meet but newcomers Marissa Corteras, Holly Palomo, Anna Van Tiendren have shown great potential at practices
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Just to compete well in our season.
What are the primary individual and team goals? Go to state as they have made modifications to qualify.

Liberty Lions

Boys Coach: David Ostrus (fifth year)
Girls Coach: Chrissy Borg (seventh year)
Section: Division I Southwest
Who are your top returning runners? My top returning runners would be John Shinske, Dan Foster and Matthew Michels who placed 27th, 31st and 73rd respectively at the state Division I championships last year. This core of my team has been training together and pushing each other with amazing consistency during the whole quarantine.
Who are some of the newcomers that may have an impact this year? Sean Bressler has gotten back into the form he expected after coming back from some nagging injuries during his freshman and sophomore years. William Rannow, Landon Anderson, Lucas Jones, Jonathan Sweepe, Carson Moore and Ryan Denhof, only a freshman, round out a very solid top ten group that we will be leaning on during this season.
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? I think this team’s best attribute is their ability to have fun and stay consistent during all of this COVID craziness. They have been able to push each other and set their own team goals that they have committed to as a varsity team.
What are the primary individual and team goals? Our primary team goal is to improve on our performances from last year and push each other as a team to achieve what we know that we are capable of. The team has some very lofty goals that we are committed to attaining by taking it one day at a time. We have the talent and desire as a team to do things that I have never been blessed as a coach to even dream of (we will leave it at that). Individual goals include running times that will earn a few of our guys the College athletic scholarships that they have worked so extremely hard for.

Peoria Panthers

Boys Coach: Jim Kenyon (sixth year)
Girls Coach: Kraig Day (second year)
Section: Division III Metro
Who are your top returning runners? Our top returning runner is a senior, Kyle Vonnahme. I do expect him to perform very well this season, and he should be one of the top runners in our section
What are the primary individual and team goals? Our primary goal this season is to stay safe and healthy while continuing to compete and grow as a team and student athletes.

Sunrise Mountain Mustangs

Boys Coach: Torin Lattie (23rd year)
Girls Coach: Terry Lattie (sixth year)
Section: Division II Northwest
Who are your top returning runners?
• Boys: Senior Justin Pace. Justin was fifth in sectionals and 19th at state last year. I believe he will be a contender for the individual title. Senior Reid Gunnels. Reid is definitely our most improved and should have a great season. Korey Williams, Chaz Koronich, Noah Branaman – all came on strong at the end of last season to help us win district and section championships.
Girls: Junior Kaitlyn Kaye. In just her first cross country season last year, Kaitlyn was our district champion, fourth at sectionals, and fifth at state. She will also be a contender for the individual title. Junior Grace Deines 11th at Section and 20th at state. Sophomore Lillian Henze: 15th at section and 23rd at state.
Who are some of the newcomers that may have an impact this year?
• Boys: Senior Owen Chugg – moving up from JV, but looking solid in practice.
Girls: Freshman Madelyn Palmer. Madelyn is new to cross country, but is already showing the talent and work ethic to be great – possibly a family trait as she is the younger sister of Braedon. Sophomore Kristina Kaye. First cross country season, but working very hard.
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season?
• Boys: Experience. This is definitely a senior led team, and they understand that their accomplishments this season will come through hard work.
Girls: Depth, talent and youth. The girls are very talented, and the core of the team is still very young. While our young girls have worked hard over the summer when we were allowed to train, we have several juniors and seniors not mentioned that could come on strong (Tatum Jaeger – 10th at section and 28th at state freshman year; Olivia Dalberg – ninth at section; Madi Skrip – 26th at state sophomore year; Isabel Schinella – one of the hardest workers on the team).
What are the primary individual and team goals?
• Boys: As always, we are trying to improve on the previous season, both individually and a as a team. The boys will be hard pressed since we lost our top two individuals to graduation. Still they are determined to work hard to have a good result at section and state. Justin Pace will be trying to put himself in a position to lead this team and have a crack at the individual title.
Girls: The girls are also trying to improve upon last year’s finish. They won districts, but have been runners up to Flagstaff at sections the last five years, and have been in the top six at state each of those years as well. Kaitly Kaye will be working to be a contender for the individual crown.
The pandemic put a wrinkle in everyone’s training and motivation. I feel for our seniors because after cancelling last year’s track season, and then the on again-off again training this summer, I believe they had strong doubts that there would be a cross country season this fall. Some of them seemed to lose motivation and it showed with their training. Some of them are working hard to make up for lost time, while others have a long way to go. However, our goals as a team remain the same.
The pandemic put a wrinkle in everyone’s training and motivation. I feel for our seniors because after cancelling last year’s track season, and then the on again-off again training this summer, I believe they had strong doubts that there would be a cross country season this fall. Some of them seemed to lose motivation and it showed with their training. Some of them are working hard to make up for lost time, while others have a long way to go. However, our goals as a team remain the same.

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