Ramsay Chancellor was late to the wonderful world of shin splints.

And like everyone else who has gone through the common syndrome that is caused by irritated and swollen muscles, often from overuse, especially for new runners, she didn’t like it so much.

The Mountain Pointe senior pushed through it and it was like passing the entrance exam in order to become a distance runner.

Most of the runners at the state cross country meet this weekend at Cave Creek Golf Course experienced shin splints for the first time long ago, but Chancellor is new to all of this for the most part.

“It was terrible, but it’s part of it,” she said. “Everyone goes through it. I really never did a lot of running until I ran track last year. Running is about being mentally strong and pushing through pain is part of that.”

First-year Mountain Pointe coach Grant Sinclair said it’s a shame that Chancellor, who has been the Pride’s top runner most of the season, came to the sport late.

It didn’t stop her from qualifying for state, along with teammate Francesca Olguin, who finished sixth at sectional.

“This is a kid who just started running for the very first time ever this past February,” he said. “So she is just now, at nine months in, establishing a truly workable aerobic base. It’s really quite impressive. She’s extremely dedicated and a very hard worker.

“This is a real sleeper that a college coach would love to have. She is going to continue to get faster and faster as time goes on. It’s hard to peak a first time runner, but we’re hoping she can put up some good times.”

While the Pride only qualified a few individuals for the meet, Desert Vista hopes to come away from Saturday’s meet with two team titles.

The Thunder girls enter the meet as co-favorites with six-time defending champion Xavier as the Jones sisters — Dani and Baylee — form a difficult one-two punch, but the title will come down to the back half of the lineup that first-year coach Jeff Messer sends to the starting line.

The lone senior among the group is Nicole Hicks, who hopes to close out her career with a title, which would be the first for the program since 2000.

“It would mean all of the early mornings and miles really paid off,” she said. “We’ve been working so hard and we’ve been doing really good with the new coach. We just have to put it together at the end.”

The Thunder boys are the defending champions and could very well do it again as long as there isn’t too much separation between the pack of course.

“We struggled to keep up with each other,” sophomore Xavier Esparza said after Desert Vista finished second to Corona del Sol at the Tempe City meet. “We can’t do that at state. The pack has to be tighter and run our race.

“We just have to do our best and not worry about what other teams our doing.”

Horizon Honors will be competing in the Division IV meet with senior Mikaela Martin looking for her third straight top five finish.

It’s shaping up to be a great weekend for the area as long as those hills on the golf course don’t bite back too much.

“The first few times I hit a hill I was like, ‘What am I doing this for?’” Chancellor said. “I eventually got better and stronger, and now I hit those inclines harder and fight through it.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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