Abby Greenleaf and Erin Huffman will be running against some of the state’s finest distance stars when the firing of the starting gun signals the start of Division III state cross country championships tomorrow, Nov. 3, at Cave Creek Golf Course.
The fierce competition will be due to the presence of speedy qualifiers from Sections I, II and III in D-III.
The trio of sectional meets was held Oct. 27 at Hidden Cove Golf Course in Holbrook, Marana High School and Grand Canal Linear Park in Glendale.
In the state meet, Payson High’s two qualifiers will be representing Section I, of which PHS is a member.
Among the opponents Greenleaf and Huffman will be pitted against at state are Section III champion Diana Garcia, Section II gold medalist Melissa Williams and Section I winner Skyler Storie.
Of those champions, Tempe High’s Garcia appears to be the odds on state favorite because she turned in the fastest winning time, 18:53.24, of the section finals and was second at last year’s state meet. The girls who finished first, third and fourth all graduated last spring.
Garcia also set course records at both the Falcon Invitational and the 2.6-mile Ray Wherley Invitational. She won the 2.08-mile division of the Mt. Carmel (Calif.) Invite.
Storie, of Mingus, won her section crown in 19:29.62 and Sahuarita’s Williams took first in 19:54.7.
In the Section I finals, Greenleaf finished 16th in 21:18.51 and Huffman was 21st in 21:51.11.
Chinle’s Deriann Yazzi, Campo Verde’s Marne Helbing and Sierra Jarriel of Fountain Hills are all expected to give the three sectional champions plenty of competition tomorrow.
Jarriel has turned in a sub 19-minute 5K finishing in 18:59.67 and in second place at the S-III championships.
Yazzi, was second in the S-I finals in 20:14.68 and Helbing was a S-II silver medalist with a time of 19:55.00.
As for team competition, the Lady Longhorns did not finish in the top one-half at the sectional meet and thus did not qualify an entire team for state.
Campo Verde goes to state as the S-II champion and a favorite to win it all. Page, the S-I titleholder is expected to make a run at the title as is Tempe of S-III.
The D-III state run is slated to begin tomorrow at 9:15 a.m.