Although it did not have the same amount of teams that the Division I state meet has, Thursday’s (Nov. 5) Southwest Section state qualifier was a good litmus test for the state meet on Nov. 12.
And Xavier Prep’s Gators passed their test with flying blue colors by sending all seven of its runners across the finish line among the top 18 in the 53-runner field at the Rose Mofford Sports Complex in north Phoenix.
The girls’ 5K race and the boys’ 5K just before it were in “brutally hot’’ conditions (mid 90s, uncommon at this time of year), according to long-time Xavier coach Dave Van Sickle.
“For most of our practices, we haven’t seen the sun much (before school starts),’’ he said.
Xavier appears to have a lot of quality depth this season, as indicated by the sectional finish.
Junior Jamie Stelnik was the Gators’ top runner, with a strong second-place effort at 19:04.4. She was five seconds off the winning time of 18:59.2 by Madeline Davis of Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor.
Other Xavier runners were junior Tatum Goforth at No. 8 (19:54.9), junior Macarthy Mahoney at No. 9 (20:00.1), junior Hannah Wheeling at No. 10 (20:15.8), sophomore Reyna Silva at No. 12 (20:29.6), junior Catherine Alaimo at No. 15 (20:58.1) and junior Karime Morales at No. 18 (21:13.2).
Team scores were Xavier Prep 41, Surprise Shadow Ridge 82, Anthem Boulder Creek 82, Peoria Liberty 85, Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor 99, Scottsdale Chaparral 131, Surprise Valley Vista 210 and Phoenix Sunnyslope 230.
The state meet will be held at Crossroads Park in Gilbert, at Greenfield and Knox roads.
Whichever team wins the title trophy will have earned it in “a weird year for everything,’’ according to Van Sickle.
“We’re maybe third or fourth on paper, but I don’t think that’s the way it finishes,’’ he said. “We’re getting better.’’
This would be the right time to do it.