Corona del Sol's Nate Rodriguez wasn't sure Friday if he was going to take a shot at winning a fourth consecutive title at the annual Chandler Cross Country Invitational at Tumbleweed Park.
Feeling a little beat up from a difficult meet the week before, Rodriguez felt good enough to go Saturday morning and promptly turned in the best time of the day in helping lead Corona del Sol to the boys title over Mesa Mountain View. Corona's girls were up to the task as well, sliipping past Highland for the top spot in the team standings.
Rodriguez, a senior, has plenty of goals set for his final year. He met one Saturday with his win in the senior race that made him 4-for-4 in the meet, which has a format of four races — one for each class in school (freshman, sophomore, junior and senior). Rodriguez won the freshman race in 2010 while attending Williams Field High. He transferred to Corona del Solthe next year and won the sophomore race in 2011 and junior race in 2012.
“Winning this was a goal,” Rodriguez said. “I wasn't feeling all that good Thursday and didn't work out Friday. I felt ready to go. I really didn't want to miss the chance to win a fourth time.”
The weather conditions were a big improvement over last week for many of the teams, including Corona. Light rain had fallen prior to the start of the meet and cloud cover dominated the race times. Corona was one of several teams competing last week at the Sole Sports Running Zone Cross Country Festival at Silverado Golf Course in Scottsdale. Despite the hot day last week, Corona outlasted Desert Vista for that meet title.
“This was a lot better than last week,” Rodriguez said. “It was probably 100 last week when we ran in the morning and the course we ran had more hills. We were kind of under-prepared for that. I was happy to be here and race today.”
Corona's aim was to get as many runners with top-10 finishes as possible in each race. The Aztecs had two in the top 10 among freshmen, one among sophomores, two among juniors and four among seniors,.
Rodriguez covered the 5K course in 15 minutes, 28 seconds to best Corona teammate Ryan Normand (15:30). (Rodriguez edged Normand last week for the boys title at the Sole Sports Meet). Rodriguez lopped off 34 seconds from his winning time at the Chandler Invite as a junior. The next best time of the day came from junior-race winner Marcus Wheeler of Corona, who finished at 15:59.
Corona del Sol's boys totaled 11 points — first in the freshman race (Slade Summers), eighth in the soph race (Lucas Ykema) and first with Wheeler and Rodriguez in the upper classmen races. Mountain View had no worse than a top-12 finish in any of the races to take second with 32 points. That edged Highland for third (33 points).
The only other school to win a boys race was Perry where sophomore Cade Burks nipped Mountain View's Jacob Toller by one second. Burks time of 16:33 was 62 seconds better than his second-place finish last year in the meet's freshman race. Perry took fourth in the team standings with 53 points.
Corona's girls didn't win any of the four races, but were solid enough in their finishes to prevail. Corona was 12th in the freshman race, 8th in the soph race, 5th in the junior race and 4th in the senior race to total 29 points. Highland was second with 35 and Perry took third with 47.
Best girls' time of the day went to Mountain View senior Huston Jones (19:20). Mountain View had five seniors place in the top seven of the senior race. Other girls' race winners were Rio Rico freshman Alexandra Schadler (19:50); Chandler sophomore Alexis Nichols (20:08) and Vista Grande junior Carissa Diaz (19:31).