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Red Mountain girls taking their process to XC postseason

The Red Mountain girls cross country team won its second Mesa City title in four years. (Photo courtesy of Red Mountain cross country Twitter account).

The expected payoff from the process is about to unveil how much work the Red Mountain girls cross country team has put in since the end of the track season.

The Mountain Lions already won the Mesa City meet last weekend, but now the season’s most important meets are here.

The early alarm for A.M. runs, all the miles covered, and team bonding have the Red Mountain girls ready to perform at a high level at sectionals this week and the state meet on Nov. 4.

“The process has been in place, and has been our plan for awhile,” senior Jacqueline Santos said. “It’s just what we live by now. We’d use it during our summer training and throughout the whole year. It was all done for this time of the year.”

The East Valley Region teams are competing in the Division I, Section II sectionals on Thursday at Rose Mofford, while Desert Ridge waits until Friday for the DI, Section I sectionals on Friday at Cesar Chavez Park.

The “process” is something the Red Mountain has implemented since May when the track season ended and the Red Mountain distance runners began thinking about the state cross country meet.

It’s all about trusting the work, the practices and determination will have them prepared to peak at the right time.

“Winning the City Meet was kind of one of their goals to measure how they were doing at this point,” Red Mountain coach Brent Krieg said. “It started at the end of last season after track. We talked about dedicating to process. One of those ways to measure that is winning City heading into sectionals and state.

“It’s a nice check mark.”

The Mountain Lions were led by Nikki Hemmerlin at the City Meet as she clocked a time of 20 minutes and 36.2 seconds on the 5K course.

The key to the win was the pack mentality that saw the Mountain Lions finish third through six as freshman Brenna Bourgeois (21:11.3), Santos (21:18.7) and junior Riley Boyer (21:36.1) finished directly behind Hemmerlin.

To become contenders in the team standings, the Mountain Lions will have to better their collective times, but shouldn’t have any problems advancing to the state meet.

Fifty percent of the field at the four Division I sectionals will advance to the state meet at Cave Creek Golf Course in Phoenix on Nov. 4. Any individual that finishes in the top 25 overall and is not on a qualifying team also qualifies for the state meet.

Most of the area teams, boys and girls, are expected to finish high enough to qualify for state

Once there, and as the runners are about to toe the line, it comes down to who has put in the work, the trust between teammates and who runs the best that day.

“I feel like the reason we have had some success is because all of the girls are so close,” Boyer said. “We can be competitive within the team while trying to better ourselves against each other. We push each other to be our best.”

– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to jskoda@mynewsmesa.com.

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