Blogs / Features
Les WillseyStaff Writer, AIA365.com email@example.com
Chaparral's Kallner, Corona's Rodriguez champs at Ojo RojoSep 22, 2012
Ali Kallner couldn't afford to look back, take an extra breath or make a misstep. That's how close the finish was Saturday morning in the varsity girls race at the 24th annual Ojo Rojo Cross Country Invitational at Tumbleweed Park.
The Chaparral sophomore crossed the finish line one second ahead of runner-up Dani Jones from Desert Vista and two seconds in front of Mesa Mountain View's Huston Jones. The winning time was 18 minutes, 49 seconds over the 3.1 mile course.
"It was a tight pack with five of us pretty much from the start," Kallner said. "Two Highland girls, Mountain View and Desert Vista. The last 800 or so it was the three of us. It was really tight."
Kallner earned her second win of the year having won at Fountain Hills a couple weeks ago. It was her first time running at the Ojo Rojo, but she ran the course last year in the freshman race at the Chandler Invitational. Her time that day was 21:11, nearly 90 seconds behind Dani Jones' winning time that day.
Dani Jones, Desert Vista's outstanding sophomore, turned in the best time two weeks ago at the Chandler Invite. She tried hard the final 30 yards to edge past Kallner, but couldn't get the surge she needed in the battle of wills at the finish.
The consolation for Mountain View's Huston Jones in finishing third is she led the Toros to a decisiveteam victory with 41 points. Mountain View 's top five runners all placed in the top 15 overall. Following Huston Jones were Angela Ellsworth (6th), Erica Adams (7th), Madie Brooks (10th) and Billie Dytrt (15th). Highland finished second (71 points), led by Lauren Ellsworth and Kristi Rush. Desert Vista was third with 86 points.
In the boys varsity race, Corona del Sol's Nathan Rodriguez enjoyed a more comfortable finish. He won with a clocking of 15:53, nine seconds better than his triumph on the same course two weeks ago at the Chandler Invite. Rodriguez was eight seconds faster Saturday thanrunner-up Logan Woolf of Highland. Finishing third was Canyon del Oro's Andrew Garcia, fourth was Brophy's Jack Rubenzer and fifth was Mountain Ridge's Nick Dale.
"It was a tougher race today and I ran a little smarter," Rodriguez said. "I stayed close until the first break and just after the one-mile mark got out a little. I was still nervous because it was pretty close. I'm happy with it, though."
Corona waged a tight battle with Highland for the top spot in the team compeition and managed a four-point victory. Joining Rodriguez in the top 15 were teammates Ryan Normand (6th) and Jake Whitney (14th). Blake Fischer (35th) and Andrew Truswell (44th) rounded out Corona's scorers.
Rodriguez was already thinking ahead to next Friday's (Sept. 28) big meet, the 6th annual Desert Twilight XC Festival at Toka Sticks Golf course in Mesa.
"I'm hoping to run a PR there," Rodriguez said. "It should be ideal conditions. We'll see what happens."