In this second in our series of potential Nike Cross Regionals - Southwest teams, we take a look at the most likely possibilities among the Arizona girls.
2014 Arizona Girls State Champion: Desert Vista
2014 Arizona Girls State Runner-Up: Xavier College Prep
Arizona Representation at NXR-SW 2014: Desert Vista (2nd), Xavier College Prep (8th), Highland (19th)
Honestly, not much seems to change at the top for Arizona girls this fall. The last two teams that Jeff Messer has coached look to remain firmly in place at the top--all the more so with Highland taking big hits at commencement exercises.
Desert Vista and Xavier College Prep, both of whom are loaded with experience and returning 17, 18, and 19-type runners figure to be able to run the table again this fall.
Desert Vista will miss Dani Jones, but probably not for too long as names like Baylee Jones, Amanda Davis, and Haley Wolf take over. Emily Crall came along nicely in track season and figures to join the big three up front this fall. And, nobody is going to be terribly surprised if there is a ringer of a freshman or two coming up as well.
Xavier College Prep is also loaded--at least by anyone's standards except, possibly, Desert Vista's. Pending the arrival of any freshman phenoms, look for Jane Miller, Sarah Carter, Shannan Higgins, and Tessa Weiss to be leading the pack in blue.
The reservation schools in Arizona have historically produced a number of strong teams. This year's girls entry on that list looks to be Ganado. The Hornets return three at 19 minutes or better in Janaya McIntosh, Nikesha Eagleman, and Daangoiina Haven. In Arizona, and at their level, that's enough to get you plenty of traction, but if Ganado means to be a serious contender at the regional level, they will need to develop a couple more to the level--or at least close to it--of these three. Make no mistake, Ganado is not presently on a par with DV and Xavier, and the Hornets did not have an especially deep distance group in track this spring.
Two other teams worth keeping an eye on as the season develops are Mesa Mountain View and Sandra Day O'Connor. Both schools have some NXR-SW history and would like to reawaken some of the echoes of former glory. Of the two, Sandra Day O'Connor showed better in track this spring and might be closer to making the jump to the next level.
Window Rock, which appears to have picked up Annoesika Laughlin out of New Mexico this spring, could be another team worth keeping an eye on.
The rest of Arizona stands at still greater distance from the big two. We will take a moment, however, to note that NXN individual qualifier Allie Schadler out of Rio Rico returns and should be on your short list of potential individual titleists for NXR-SW 2015. Schadler boasts a 5K best time of 17:23 from last year's NXR-SW race.