The cross country season is always a productive one in the Ahwatukee Foothills area.
The Desert Vista programs are seemingly always in the hunt for state titles, and the boys team began the year nationally ranked.
Mountain Pointe may not crack the top 10 at state as often as it once did, but manages to always bust out a quality individual or two.
Now there is a new contender, and her name is Mikaela Martin.
The Horizon Honors sophomore is off to a great start in her career and was named second-team All-Tribune after finishing second in the Division IV state meet.
As a freshman she finished 19th at the state meet, so it was a big improvement in one year with hopes of reaching the pinnacle of the sport in her remaining two seasons.
She finished the 3.1-mile course at Cave Creek Golf Course in November with a time of 19 minutes and 54.17 seconds.
"I was trying to finish between five and 10," she said at the time. "It feels really good. I started really fast my first mile, and kind of slowed down, but then I kicked it back in."
She was the highest placer from the area, but hardly the only one to have a quality season.
Desert Vista junior Carter Macey was named first team All-Trib on the boys side, while Thunder junior Ryan Dykstra was a second-team pick.
On the girls team, Desert Vista junior Jenna Maack was a first-team pick, and junior Brittany Tretbar was a second-team pick.
Maack might have been the most impressive of the four as she had some struggles - mostly on the mental side of the sport - a year before, but put it together to have a great season, including a sixth place finish at the Division I state meet.
"Here is a kid that knows what it is like to miss something," Thunder coach Doug Christofis said. "They say you don't realize what you have until it is gone. Freshman year she was in my top five, and then last year she wasn't even in my top 10. That shows a lot of heart."
Maack is unsure of what happened a year ago, but it doesn't really matter now.
"I tried to stay positive, but I am not really sure what was wrong," she said after the state meet. "I was trying really hard, but now it is behind me."
Macey, who finished seventh at state, and Dykstra, who was 13th, were able to compete against and push each other throughout the year.
It filtered down through the whole program and was one of the reasons the team was able to finish second to Highland, the one program that bested the Thunder all year.
"They are both very competitive and driven," Thunder coach Chris Hanson said.
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