DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Cross country season ends with 3rd-place finish

Xavier Prep’s cross-country team gave it a good run in Saturday’s (Nov. 16) Division I state meet at the Cave Creek Golf Course in north Phoenix, but the Gators were unable to take home the championship after claiming the title in 2018.

Phoenix Desert Vista won the title, led by sisters and 1-2 finishers Lauren and Grace Ping. The Thunder had 49 points, followed by Gilbert Highland with 99 and Xavier with 106.

Xavier senior Mia Olsen and junior Jamie Stelnik, who finished fifth and seventh a year ago, almost made it a repeat this time. Olsen was sixth and Stelnik seventh in the 3-mile event.

Olsen’s time was 18:46.2 and Stelnik’s was 18:48.0.

Top, Xavier's Mia Olsen finished in sixth place and Jamie Stelnik, bottom left, was close behind at No. 7 (Photos by Sr. Lynn Winsor).
Other Xavier runners were sophomore Ansley Burns (20th, 19:47.6), senior Grace Valandra (35th, 20:19.5), sophomore Maria Benitez (46th, 20:34.4), freshman Reyna Silva (67th, 21:09.8) and sophomore Hannah Wheeling (94th, 22:03.4). The race had a total of 144 competitors.

Olsen will graduate in 2020 and move on to Southern Methodist University. Stelnik will continue her leadership role and the future looks bright for the Gators with quite a few quality underclassmen returning.

Way to go, Gators! You did a great job this year!

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