Blogs / Features
Les WillseyStaff Writer, AIA365.com firstname.lastname@example.org
40th Conley Invite: Individual championships wide openOct 12, 2012
Opportunity is knocking Saturday (Oct. 13) at the 40th annual Doug Conley Cross Country Invitational for a new girls individual champion. On the boys side, that always seems to be the case.
The Conley gets started with four preliminary races, the first at 7:15 a.m. at Rolling Hills Golf Course in Tempe. The main events are set for 9:10 a.m.with the girls invitational followed at 9:40 a.m. by the boys invitational.
With Chinle's Rolanda Jumbo, the girls winner the last two years in run-away fashion graduated, a handful of returnees have a shot at crossing the finish line first. There have been three repeat winners in the last 12 years in the girls race -- Jumbo, Xavier's Jessica Tonn and Mountain Pointe's Sally Meyerhoff.
"There's a great field for both the boys and girls individually," Tempe High coach and meet director Eric Smith said. "I thinks there's a chance the meet records could be broken."
Xavier Prep, the defending champ with its B team last year, will likely go with a backup unit again. Its top runners figure to sit this one out in favor of next week's Mount SAC Invite in Walnut, Calif. Teams that could give Xavier's backup unit -- depending on its composition -- a run are Desert Vista and Highland.
Desert Vista and Highland have individuals capable of taking home top honors as well. Desert Vista sophomore Dani Jones, Highland senior Kristy Rush and Highland sophomore Lauren Ellsworth have enjoyed strong seasons to date. Host school Tempe High has senior Diana Garcia in the title mix. Garcia won the Ray Wherley in Prescott, prevailed in a top, but heat-shortened race at Mount Carmel, Calif., and finished second by 12 seconds to Xavier standout Sarah Fakler at the Sole Sports Festival in Scottsdale to open the season. She did not run at Desert Twilight.
Several teams have a shot at the boys title -- namely Desert Vista, Corona del Sol, Highland, Tuba City, Rincon and Rio Rico. The boys individual race arguably has more runners with a chance at first than the girls. There hasn't been a repeat winner on the boys side since Westwood's Chris Schurz turned in a three-peat (1986-88). Last year's champ, Chinle's Jonathan Yazzie, was a senior.
Cibola's Bernie Montoya, the defending Division I champ, won't be in the field and neither will Saguaro's Jake Wynn (D-III champ). Still, runners who have performed at a high level this season are Corona del Sol's Nathan Rodriguez, Salpointe's Andy Trouard, Rincon's Ryan Silva, Tuba City's Shawn Tsinnijinnie, Brophy's Jack Rubenzer, Desert Vista's Carter Macey, Highland's Logan Woolf, Chinle's Searle Tracy, Rio Rico's Robert Contreras and Cactus Shadows' Ethan Homan. Silva, Macey, Tracy, Woolf, Contreras, Rodriguez and Rubenzer all finished in the top 20 at last year's Conley. Eight of those also placed in the top 20 two weeks ago at the Desert Twilight Festival in Mesa -- Rodriguez, Trouard, Silva, Rubenzer, Woolf, Macey, Searle and Homan.
The race schedule for Saturday -- 7:15 a.m. -- Dave Shapiro non-varsity girls; 7:40 a.m. -- Jim Wehrman non-varsity boys; 8:10 a.m. -- Open varsity girls race (21 teams); 8:35 a.m. -- Open varsity boys race (17 teams); 9:10 a..m. -- Invitational girls race (17 teams); 9:40 a.m. -- Invitational boys race (19 teams).