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.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Liberty runners zip past Gators in sectional

 Xavier Prep has some talented cross-country runners this season, and as it turns out, Peoria Liberty does, too.

In the Division I Southwest Sectional state qualifying event on Tuesday (Nov. 2) at Cesar Chavez Park in Laveen, Liberty had the top three individual runners in the 5K race that boosted it to the sectional title over second-place Xavier.

Next will be the gathering of D-I runners from around the state at the state meet on Nov. 13 at the Cave Creek Golf Course in north Phoenix. The D-l girls’ race will begin at 12:30 p.m.

Overcoming a 1-2-3 finish would be an accomplishment that few teams could muster. Liberty scored 25 points for the win, while Xavier totaled 38. Surprise Shadow Ridge was the only other team in double figures – with 82 points.

In addition to the top three runners, Liberty had nos. 8, 11, 31 and 39. The top three finishers for the Lions were No. 1 Madeline Reeves, No. 2 McKinley Blanton and No. 3 Laynee Hollech.

Xavier, meanwhile, had four runners in the top 10 – senior Hannah Wheeling, fourth at 19:49.6, senior Tatum Goforth, sixth at 20:05.4, junior Reese Brown, seventh at 20:05.7, and senior Catherine Alaimo, ninth at 20:16.5.

The remaining three Gator runners also fared well – senior Ansley Burns, 12th at 20:33.4, senior Macarthy Mahoney, 17th at 21:19.6, and sophomore Summer Goodman, 19th at 21:22.2. The race featured 80 runners total.

Team scores – Peoria Liberty 25, Xavier Prep 38, Surprise Shadow Ridge 82, Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor 119, Anthem Boulder Creek 142, Scottsdale Chaparral 148, Phoenix Alhambra 210, Phoenix Sunnyslope 237, Laveen Cesar Chavez 243, Tolleson High 272 and Surprise Valley Vista 279.

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