The 2017 Skyline boys cross country team certainly left an indelible mark on the program.
The Coyotes had its highest finish at the state meet and also managed to place higher than Mountain View for the first time at the season’s definable meet.
“This has to be the best day in the history of the program,” Skyline coach Mike Roelofs said. “They really came through and ran smart races throughout the lineup. It was all about running your race and knowing how you felt, and taking advantage of it.”
The Coyotes finished fifth Saturday for the first time in program history to edge Mountain View, which came in at sixth place after tying Skyline at the City Meet and beating them at sectionals.
There was barely any separation as Skyline finished with 185 to Mountain View’s 187.
“We ran the race exactly the way we needed to,” said sophomore Jacob Doest, who was Skyline’s second best finisher. “We were told all year to listen your body, and know when to push for a little extra. I was feeling strong after two miles and knew it was going to come down to that last one.”
The difference in beating Mountain View and finishing in the top five was cemented by senior Lawson Lundquist.
He finished 64th in the team race (70th overall) and according to Roelofs used a kick at the end to pass a handful of runners down the stretch to pick up valuable placement slots.
“He’s a senior, back in the pack around 60 or so and he wasn’t going to get a medal,” Roelofs said. “He could have phoned it in, but he went after it and finished strong. We don’t accomplish what we did without him finishing it off.”
The Coyotes were led by Grant Kennedy, who came in 15th in a time of 16:26 on the 3.1-mile course at Cave Creek Golf Course.
It was a year in the making as the senor finished 22nd last year, meaning he missed being an all-state selection by one spot.
“It was a huge motivator, and I wasn’t going to let it come down to a couple of spots,” he said. “I went out strong, and kept it going. I knew I was going to get there this time.”
Kennedy was backed by Doest (30th, 17:10), senior Austin Owens (36th, 17:16), junior Ethan Howard (40th, 17:19) and Lunquist (17:45).
The Toros were paced by senior Jared Price (31st, 17:10), junior Zach Frisch (32nd, 17:11) with senior Sean Stapley (41st, 17:20), junior Deshawn Malone (46th, 17:23) and Carson Kleppinger (48th, 17:28) doing their part.
“We had some good individual races, but some were off their normal pace,” Mountain View coach Ronnie Buchanan said. “It wasn’t our best day, but you can learn from races like this and be ready to rebound during track season.”
Dobson didn’t qualify as a team but senior Scott Sally finished in 26th place with a time of 16:53 and senior Claudio Garcia was 29th with a time of 17:03.
Clearly, however, it was Skyline’s day to lead the pack for the Mesa’s schools at the state meet.
“I knew I was going to do everything I could, and I was thought the rest of my team would do the same,” said Kennedy, who won the Four Peaks Invite and City Meet this year. “They really dug deep and it’s awesome to know we set a school record in my senior year.”
– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.