The Rim Country Maverick Middle School track and field team took a huge step into big-time competition by entering the prestigious 6th Annual Nike Desert Twilight Cross Country Festival that drew almost 1,000 middle school and high school runners to Toga Sticks Golf Course in Gilbert.
Competing Sept. 28, the Mavericks finished third overall behind champion Kyrene and runner-up Rio Rico.
“It was a huge accomplishment,” said coach Jackie Wallace, also a physical education teacher at RCMS.
Individually, in the about 100-runner field, Sarah Carter was third, Journey Alexander 28th, Charlotte Sorenson 30th, Kyra Bell 35th and Taylor Brade 38th.
The Maverick runners return to action tomorrow, Oct. 3, at Pioneer Park in Prescott, where they will compete in the Verde Valley League regional finals.
In those, the runners will not compete in one single 6th-, 7th- and 8th-grade division as they did in the festival, but will run either in the 6th-grade or 7th- and 8th-grade division.
“I hope my sixth-graders win it,” said Wallace.
In the sport of cross country, the Mavericks are aligned in the Verde Valley League rather than the White Mountain League where the RCMS team sports belong.
Because the WML does not offer cross country, Wallace entered the Mavs in the Verde Valley alignment that also contains all the Prescott teams, Sedona, Clarkdale, Mingus and Bradshaw Mountain.
The finals in Prescott will mark the culmination of the 2012 season.