One of the goals for Palo Verde’s boys cross country team this year is to improve upon a fifth-place finish in last year’s Division I state meet.
That chance won’t come for another two months, but if Saturday is any indication, the Panthers have good reason to be optimistic.
Buoyed by a second-place finish from Noah Landers, Palo Verde won the junior-senior race of the Labor Day Invitational on its home course.
The Panthers, who had three of the top eight finishers in the race, had a team total of 49 points. Two-time defending state champion Centennial was second with 63, five points better than Green Valley.
The Bulldogs’ Dajour Braxton won the 3.1-mile race in 16 minutes, 12.1 seconds.
Landers was second in 16:26.1, and Green Valley’s Austin Rogers was close behind at 16:32.6.
Faith Lutheran’s Chase Wood (17:02.5) and Tech’s Garrett Meyer (17:21.8) rounded out the top five.
Palo Verde was the only team to place three runners in the top eight in the boys junior-senior race as Andrew Goldsmith finished seventh in 17:36, and Nick Vasknets was eighth in 17:51.6.
Lenny Rubi led Green Valley to victory in the boys freshmen-sophomore race, winning in 17:42.2. Rubi nipped Centennial’s Braedon Tarone (17:44.2) and Arbor View’s Tim Myers (17:44.6).
The Gators easily won the team event with 43 points. Coronado was second with 77, and Palo Verde took third with 79.
Palo Verde swept the girls races, narrowly edging Coronado for the girls junior-senior team title with 48 points. Coronado, which had all five scoring runners in the top 12, had 49 points.
Centennial’s Marieta Wright won the race in 20:42.7. Palo Verde’s Samantha Reintjes was second in 20:51.8.
Arbor View’s Madison Fletcher (21:02.9), Palo Verde’s Carolina Cleland (21:11.7) and Green Valley’s Ashley Sands (21:20.7) rounded out the top five.
The Cougars’ best finish was Alexandria Danlag’s seventh-place effort in 21:29, but Coronado also took the ninth through 12th spots as Danielle Greene (21:49), Jessica Attebury (21:51), Tristin Sanders (21:59.5) and Megan Denter (22:01.9) paraded across the line.
The Panthers had 43 points to win the freshmen-sophomore race. Arbor View was second with 53.
Palo Verde’s Emma Wahlenmaier posted the best girls time of the day to win the race in 19:48.4. Centennial’s Kayla Roberts was second in 20:03.5, followed by the Panthers’ Tori Landers in 21:08.3.