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Les WillseyStaff Writer, AIA365.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Salpointe's Trouard, D. Vista's Jones eke out Conley winsOct 13, 2012
The weather was ideal and the individual invitational races as good as they get Saturday morning at the 40th annual Doug Conley Cross Country Invitational at Tempe's Rolling Hiils Golf Course.
Desert Vista's Dani Jones traded leads coming down the stretch with Tempe High's Diana Garcia and prevailed in the women's invitational race by slightly more than a second. Jones, a sophmore, registered a time of 18 minutes 47.50 seconds.Garcia came in at 18:48.93. They battled up front most of the way. Jonesheld a couple-stride lead with about 200 meters left before Garcia kicked past her with about 100 meters left. Jones final kick was just enough to regain the lead the last 20-30 meters.
"I felt I had a good kick left," Jones said, noting her track specialty is the 800. "It was so tight until the end."
Jones struggled in the meet last year, her first time running it. She placed 30th. Her winning time Saturday shaved two minutes off her mark a year ago. Garcia ran in the open varsity race last year with a time that would have put her in the top 10-15 of the invitational race. Garcia will be one of the favorites in the Division III state meet in three weeks.
Hard as it was to believe, the boys invitational race was even closer than the girls. Salpointe senior Andy Trouard and Corona del Sol's Nathan Rodriguez waged a neck-and-neck battle pretty much the final mile. Rodriguez appeared to pass Trouard with a little more than 100 meters left. A slight stumble by Rodriguez allowed Trouard to inch ahead. Trouard nipped Rodriguez by .52 of a second at the finish (15:36.48 to 15:37.00).
"I just gave everything I had at the end," Trouard said. "I didn't know I could push that hard. For awhile I was all alone and not worried. (Rodriguez) moved up and I told myself I'm really going to have to go."
Trouard has run track in the past. He helped Salpointe with the D-II boys state title last year sweeping the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter crowns. This is his first year running cross country. He's shown he's pretty much a natural at it. Trouard finished second and Rodriguez third two weeks ago at the Desert Twilight Meet. Rodriguez pushed Trouard a little harder this time.
"I ran much better here than I did last year," Rodriguez, who sliced 80 seconds off his 17th-place finish last year, said. "I knew how to run the race this time. Based on how I did last year and how tight it was, I'm pleased with how I ran."
Xavier Prep won the women's invitational title for the second year in a row with its second team giving a strong performance again. Xavier scored 52 points to outdistance runner-up Desert Vista (79) and third-place Corona del Sol (136). Xavier's five scoring runners placed in the top 22 -- McKenna Gaffney (3rd), Lauren Kinzle (4th), Savannah Gaffney (8th), Margaret Brennan (15th) and Shannon Molvin (22nd).
Xavier coach Jeff Messer has a highly competitive program, proven by its second tier of runners being able to win at Conley.
"We have a lot of competition on ouor team and we respect the Conley meet," Messer said. "We have battles with our 8th through 14th girls to get the chance to run here. They induce and impose the competition on themselves. They performed very well today. There is a constant urgency to do well that keeps the competition level high. There are great teams and runners at this meett, and its great competition for us with teams from all over the state involved."
Division III Rio Rico was hands down the team champ of the men's invitational. Rio Rico totaled 72 points. Their performance mirrored Xavier's with its top five runners placing in the top 20 -- Rob Contreras (7th), Ben Noriega (8th), Lee Jones (16th), Oscar Amaya (18th) and Braulio Lopez (20th). Tuba City was second with 131 and Highland took third with 143.
"We've been working our way upward, trying to get stronger as we go," Rio Rico coach Steve Schadler said. "This is our first team trophy this year. We were ninth at Desert Twilight with a decent performance. We were third last week at Marana Mountain View in a combined boys-girls scoring meet. The guys ran great on a great day to run. We want to keep going up."
In the women's open varsity race, Rincon's Kendra Knittel was the individual champion in a runaway with a time of 19:39. Salpointe won the team competition with 129 to best runner-up Marcos de Niza (134). The men's open varsity race went to Vista Grande's Adrian Ortega. Ortega (16:18) edged runner-up Tyler Day (Mesquite) by six seconds. Vista Grande (76) won the team title by one point over Coconino (77).