2016 Nike Cross Southwest: A Few Shockers to Stir the Pot of the Expected

Top Moment of the Meet (2)

Mountain Vista Earns Their Moment

Sarah O'Sullivan establishes a strong presence toward the front for Mountain Vista.

It's difficult to say which came as a greater surprise, the Mountain Vista boys win at NXR-SW in 2015 or the girls win in 2016. 

The day was supposed to belong the Desert Vista, the prohibitive favorite going in. Evidently, however, even the Thunder felt the ill effects of heat, wind, dust, and, perhaps, expectations. It was Mountain Vista that had all the solutions this time around.

Critical to the Mountain Vista effort was scoring three runners in single digits. Freshmen Jenna Fitzsimmons and Sarah O'Sullivan did what they've done all season at the front of the pack and kept the tally low, scoring 4 and 7, respectively. Sophomore Caroline Eck, who missed large parts of the season with an injury, had an outstanding race and tallied another 9.

A enormous second key for Mountain Vista, however, was the return of Mauren Fitzsimmons. The older Fitzsimmons sister had missed the entire state-sanctioned season but came back with a vengeance at NXR-SW, scoring 32 points at 19:09. Zoe Simmons closed out the Mountain Vista scoring four second later.

Although Desert Vista ended up beating Mountain Vista at positions four and five, Mountain Vista had kept it close enough that DV could not overcome the early advantage MV had carved out. The final team tally read Mountain Vista 88, Desert Vista 100. 

Two very good teams from Broomfield and American Fork ended up third and fourth and await the deliberations of the at-large committee to determine their fate so far as NXN is concerned. 

There was no parallel drama in the individual race. Lauren Gregory made a serious chase for the better part of two miles, but the lead that Brie Oakley had established in the early going kept inching larger until it came to the point where the individual title had become a done deal.

For most of the race, Gregory appeared to have second-place in hand, but perhaps spent just a bit too hard in her early pursuit of Oakley. In any case, Gregory succumbed to a late charge from Arizona's Allie Schadler and finished third. 

Utah 8th grader Grace Ping and Colorado sophomore Quinn McConnell would end up rounding out the top five, claiming the five individual qualifying berths along the way.