By Arnie Leshin
The Academy of Technology and The Classics girls will be off and running at Friday night’s annual Desert Twilight 5-killometer Cross Country Invitational on the lit-up course at Casa Grande.
Head coach Tim Host, who has been a successful XC coach through the years, has entered these seven girls because they are young and good. He feels they deserve to compete with these other quality teams that come from Arizona and other areas.
There is not a senior among these Phoenix harriers. They have been led by junior Maggie Rittmeyer, her freshman sister, Lily, sophomore Josette Gurule, freshman Noelani Van Loom, junior Kate Ferguson, junior Kamryn Hoehne, and sopohomore Mariah Trujillo.
Maggie has been consistent thus far, finishing first in the field or placing among the top five. Up-and-coming sister, Lily, has been closing the gap and settling in as number two. Right behind is Gurule, and then comes Van Loom, Ferguson and Hoehne within three seconds of one another.
How close have these three been? Well, Van Loom recently ran 22:21, Ferguson 2:22, and Hoehne 22:23. Twenty seconds behind has been Trujillo.
So it’s been a close pack similar to what Los Alamos has done through its championship years.
From first to seventh, the difference has been 2:29. From second to seventh, it has been 1:30. From third to seventh, only 28 seconds. They hang as close as they have learned from Host. Thus, they and the Pecos girls are the teams to beat in the Nov.6 state 3A championships.
But now ATC will test the course that has brought outstanding times and provided fierce competition each year. As darkness sets in, the course will be lit up, with lights also along the outside of the course.
There are various races, approximately one dozen, with the Phoenix expected to run in one of the stronger fields, which would be the Girl’s Small School Open, Girl’s Large School Open 1, Girl’s Small School Varsity, Girl’s Large School Varsity, the Girl’s Championship or the Girl’s Sweepstakes.
The Open Races that were split will be merged together to determine places. The first race to go off will be the Boy’s Frosh Small School at 4 p.m.
Medals to top 20 in all high school races and junior high races. T-Shirts to the top 10 individuals in the Sweepstake races provided by the Awesome Company Shirts INK.
New Mexico has sent other schools there, including St. Michael’s, Rio Rancho and Kirtland Central (its Kashon Harrison had third best overall boy’s time of 14:50 in 2018, and Rio Rancho’s Daniel Beam ran 15:33 and Cory Smith 15:59).
Not to forget the ATC boys, they will race Saturday in the East Mountain Invitational at Sandia Park.