Most of 2012's individual state champions were seniors. That's opened the door for new blood in the winner's circle in many of the state's four divisions — male and female.
The state title races for all divisionis — I through IV — take place Saturday November 9 at Cave Creek Golf Course (15202 N. 19th Avenue) in Phoenix. The schedule of race is as follows: 9:15 a.m. — D-II boys; 9:45 a.m. — D-III boys; 10:15 a.m. — D-II girls; 10:45 a.m. — D-III girls; 11:30 a.m. — D-I girls; Noon — D-IV boys; 12:30 p.m. — D-I boys; 1 p.m. — D-IV girls.
Here's a brief look at top teams and indviduals and teams by division vying for honors Saturday (Nov. 9), barring injury/illness:
DIVISION I BOYS: TEAM — This is Corona del Sol's title to win. The Aztecs won all five invitationals they participated in and have a solid trio of runners who are top 10 if not top five material. Desert Vista, which competed in the same region with Corona, is strong but will have to be at its best to knock off Corona for the top spot. Other teams to watch are Ironwood Ridge, Brophy Prep, Highland, Perry, Mesa Mountain View and Catalina Foothills. INDIVIDUAL — The favorite is Corona del Sol senior Nathan Rodriguez, who has won five invitationals, the Tempe City Meet and his sectional. Rodriguez has company with teammates Ryan Normand and Marcus Wheeler, who push him if noone else does. Normand has run within a second or two on several occasions with Rodriguez. Other runners to watch are Marcus Wheeler (Corona), NIck Dale (Mtn. Ridge), Tyler Day (Mesquite), Jordan Hellebuyck (Ironwood Ridge), Cade Burks (Perry), Alex Nova (Boulder Creek) and .
DIVISION II BOYS: TEAM — Catalina Foothills, Cactus Shadows and Marana Mtn. View should be among the leaders with Cactus Shadows the defending champ. Some fo the top team competition moved up to D-I (namely Ironwood Ridge). INDIVIDUAL — There is no returning champ, but expect a battle among Campo Verde's Lucky Schreiner, Catalina Foothills Harvey Nelson, Notre Dame Prep's Jack Hovland, McClintock's Emmanuel Hidalgo, Vista Grande's Adrian Ortega, South Mountain's Daniel Frietz, Cactus Shadows' Keith Durkin, Sunnyslope's Alex Bates, Saguaro's Alex Stevens, Marana Mtn. View's Josh Fleetwood and Arcadia's John Reniewicki.
DIVISION III BOYS: TEAM — Should be a tight race among Tuba City, Page and defending champ Rio Rico. Each returns key runners from last season. INDIVIDUAL — Runners to watch in what figures to be a wide-open race are Tuba City's Brian Masayesva, Anthony Masayesva and Albert Fuller; Rio Rico's Oscar Amaya, Carlos Villarreal and Ben Noriega; Page's Jeffery Miller, and Moon Valley's Jorge Pineda.
DIVISION IV BOYS: TEAM — Hopi has been a dominant small school for years and 2013 should be no exception. Others to watch are Glendale Prep and Pusch Ridge. INDIVIDUAL — The defending champ does return — Pusch Ridge's Kyle Cajero. Cajero will be pushed by Arizona Lutheran's Josh Hoskinson, who has proven himself one of the top runners in the state regardless of division over his four seasons. Others to watch are Hopi's Terry Hoventewa and Anfernee Howard, North Prep's Jonathan Hall and Pinon's Adriano Joe.
DIVISION I GIRLS: TEAM — It's a two-school race between Xavier and Desert Vista. Tough for any other schools to beat out that duo. Other schools to watch: Mesa Mountain View and Highland. INDIVIDUAL — Desert Vista junior Dani Jones is the girls' version of Nathan Rodriguez. She's won all her races in Arizona and stepped out and done well in elite meets out of state. She's primed to take the place of Xavier's Sarah Fakler as the state's top runner. Freshman sister Baylee Jones seems intent on following big sister Dani's lead, usually running right behind her in meets. Other runners to watch are Highland's Lauren Ellsworth, Desert Vista's Nicole Hicks, Xavier's Shelby Brown, Mesa Mountain View's Huston Jones, Red Mountain's Taryn Estavillo, Mesquite's Alice Jensen and Chaparral's Alli Kallner.
DIVISION II GIRLS TEAM: — Flagstaff is the defending champ and with three of its top five returning is the favorite. Catalina Foothills was strong in winning its section. INDIVIDUAL — The runaway state champ, a two-time state champ is back — Flagstaff's Tatiana Gillick. It doesn't appear anyone is good enough to give her a run at a threepeat. Others to watch are Flagstaff teammates Fiona Nicholson and Alix Manci, Vista Grande's Carissa Diaz, Queen Creek's Lucy Hilarides and Arcadia's Megan Renwiecki.
DIVISION III GIRLS TEAM: — Page, Tuba City, Rio Rico are the top contenders. Page won the title last year. Perhaps Fountain HIlls or Tempe slotting in the top five. INDIVIDUAL — Ganado sophomore Nikesha Eagleman is the top returning finisher last year (third in D-IV). Eagleman moves up a division and faces a huge challenge from Rio Rico freshman Alexandra Schadler. Schadler won the Doug Conley and finished sixth overall at Desert Twilight. Also keep an eye on Fountain Hills Sierra Jarriel.
DIVISION IV GIRLS TEAM: — A race among Hopi. Pusch Ridge, Northland Prep and Scottsdale Prep. Hopi and Pusch Ridge finished 1-2, respectively, last year with plenty of experienced runners in their lineups. INDIVIDUAL — Hopi has five of its top seven runners back led by Claryn Josytewa, Christen Ben and Kaitlin Billy. Pusch Ridge returns five runners led by Cayley Hensley and Mali Smith. Other challengers are Horizon Honors senior Mykaela Martin and Scottsdale Prep's Charlotte Moore. Northland Prep is led by Valentina Nyhart.