The high school boys and girls cross country season began last week.
West Valley Preps and the Glendale and Peoria Independent asked local coaches about their teams. Here are their responses.
Boys Coach: Richard Levan (fifth year)
Girls Coach: Richard Levan (first year as girls coach)
Section: Division III Metro
Who are your top returning runners? Alex Murphy, senior, is looking strong. Had a great summer of training. Megan Arganbright, senior, is showing potential for a good year. Our junior girls Alex Horton and Kaylee Mercurio have been showing steady improvement.
Who are some of the newcomers that may have an impact this year? Tyler Black and Isabella Orozco should have good freshman years. With no junior high season last year they may be a little race rusty to begin with but had a good summer of training.
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? I think right now we are trying to find that but I would have to say for most it is desire and work ethic.
What are your primary team and individual goals this season? The boy’s team looks to be strong. Our core group of sophomores of Alex Yowell, Blake Lowe and Matt Black along with junior Isaiah Saenz and Alex Murphy could possibly contend for sectionals. Individually, Alex Murphy has some big goals and has worked hard all summer to have a chance to achieve them.
Boys Coach: Michael White (first year as coach)
Girls Coach: Steve Ybarra (third year as coach)
Section: Division II Metro
Who are your top returning runners? Girls: Carly Ybarra, junior, Shantelle Berrien, junior, Serena Spacht, senior.
Who are some of the newcomers that may have an impact this year? Girls: Elizabeth Medina, Kenzie Frey, Raegen Heckart and Taryn Long.
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Girls: We have great athletes as a group, best we’ve had in years.. Just need to make sure we stay healthy and continue to put in consistent training to develop our newer runners along with tapping into the potential/reaching new heights for our returners.
What are your primary team and individual goals this season? Girls: First team goal is to do as well as possible in our district meet, 2nd is to qualify for state. To do that with so many new runners would do so much for our program and light a fire in our runners to achieve greater things in the future.
Boys and Girls Coach: Kevin Riegle (third year as coach)
Section: Division II Metro
Who are your top returning runners? Boys: Austin Utter is our top returner. He has been very consistent this summer and 1st month of practice. I am hoping that he starts the year off with a PR. Micah Horney is attempting to swim and run this fall for the skyhawks. He has the potential to do well if he can handle the stress of the 2 grueling sports.
Girls: Nya Valunzuela placed 11th at state and is coming off a third place finish in the mile and sixth place finish in the 3200m in track. Emma Axness, Jocelyn Esquerra, and Rylee Jensen have put in great work this summer, and are returning from a sectional runner up team last fall.
Who are some of the newcomers that may have an impact this year? Boys: Luke Willett is a senior and has made the switch from football to cross county this fall. He looks to be one of out top three runners this season. We also have a great freshman class. I am looking forward to seeing their progression throughout the year and into the future. We have also convinced some of the track guys who run some of the long sprints to give cross a try. I'm excited to see what they can do and how they handle the longer distances.
Girls: I look for Destiny Blackford and Johanne Relampagos to crack the top seven this year. Blackford is a sophomore returning from a solid track season where she ran the 200 and 400m. Relampagos has been consistent with putting in work in her freshman year.
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Boys: I am really impressed with the numbers we have. Our team on both the boys and girls side is larger than it's been in the 18 years I have been at Deer Valley.
Girls: We have double the numbers on the girls side that we had the previous 4-5 years. Having this depth is great and the freshman class looks to be very solid.
What are your primary team and individual goals this season? Boys: I am just looking to see these kids progress. We are a young team, and I hope to see PR's all over the place. That's all I can ask.
Girls: As a team I would like to see the girls side improve on their place from a year ago on at districts, sectionals, and state. Individually, I think we can put 2-3 in the top 20 at state with Valenzuela possibly cracking a top 5 spot at state.
Boys and Girls Coach: Eric Webdale (sixth year)
Section: Division IV Metro
Who are your top returning runners? My top returning runners are Trevin Janssen on the boy’s side and Madeline McBee, Chloe Cannon, Anushka Kulkarni and Hadyn Wilson on the girl’s side.
Who are some of the newcomers that may have an impact this year? On the boy’s side it’s a sophomore, but I’m looking forward to the impact Peter Brown will have. On the girl’s side, incoming freshman Taryn Janssen will really help our team.
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Our best attribute is the experience of our top runners. The example they set for the team and how they help the young runners grow is invaluable as a coach.
What are your primary team and individual goals this season? Our goal for the boys’ team is to qualify for the state meet and individually to have a top-5 overall finisher. The goal for the girls is to compete for a state championship.
Boys Coach: David Ostrus (sixth year)
Girls Coach: Chrissy Borg (eighth year)
Section: Division I Southwest
Who are your top returning runners? Boys: Ryan Denhof (10th grade) Jonathan Sweepe 11th grade, Sean Bressler (12th), Lucas Jones (11th)
Who are some of the newcomers that may have an impact this year? Boys: New to varsity is Henry Dilworth (ninth grade) and Caleb Thomas (10th grade) will be battling for spots in the top seven and varsity returner Landon Anderson (12th grade) looks to make a strong statement as our fifth runner.
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Boys: I think perseverance and consistency has been key for our top runners.
What are your primary team and individual goals this season? Boys: I think our primary goal as a team is to stay healthy and push each other to be the best we can be. If that happens we look to try and bring home the district title for our first repeat on the boys side. It will be hard to replace the strong seniors that we graduated last year, but we have a committed core of young athletes.
Boys and girls coach: Mitchell Moses (fourth year)
Section: Division I Southwest
Who are your top returning runners? Boys: Thomas Kim, Peyton Schneider, Carson Liu and Victor Sandrin.
Girls: Taylor Krasa and Risa Blacker
Who are some of the newcomers that may have an impact this year? Boys: Sophomore Adrian Rodriguez, freshman Jack Smith and junior Chandler DeVinney
Girls: Senior Canyon Cockrell
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Boys: Attitude