PHOENIX - The cross country state championship meet included a ravine under water, a reconfigured course, a one-hour delay and a coyote sighting.
It wasn't the typical year at Cave Creek Golf Course the first weekend in November.
There was, however, one constant - Desert Vista boys and girls cross country pushing for a state team title.
Both programs continued their string of success by finishing second in the Division I state meet as the boys finished second to Highland and the girls were behind Xavier.
The boys finished behind Highland, 86-123 as junior Carter Macey finished seventh overall and sixth in the team race with a time of 16 minutes, 11.82 seconds and Ryan Dysktra was 13th overall (12th in team) with a time of 16:23.31 to earn medals.
JuniorRyan Smith (16:44.17) was next for the Thunder as he finished 24th overall (21st) as Desert Vista finished in the top three for ninth time in 10 years.
Senior Nick Kooinga (17:03.91) and sophomore Andrew Hermanski (17:04.20) round out the scoring runners for the Thunder as they finished 41st and 42nd, respectively.
"We ran about as good of a race as we could," Desert Vista coach Chris Hanson said. "Highland deserves it because they beat us when we were at our best. We are aware of our competitors but we focus on ourselves."
Because of the rain that pounded the area, the course had to be altered because the ravine that the competitors usually run through between mile 1 and mile 2 was deemed unsafe after it filled with water.
It eventually dried up but the soil was soft and therefore the course was changed. It was still 3.1 miles but one of the major hills was taken out of the equation.
"It definitely affected the race but it didn't affect us," Hanson said. "We didn't care what course we ran. We could have run in the desert or in the jungle, it wouldn't have mattered. We were ready and as prepared as we could be."
The Thunder return all but two of its top seven runners next years, including the top three, but Macey wasn't concerned about the future at the moment.
"I'm frustrated," said Macey, who finished 17th at state last season. "It wasn't our best day."
The girls team faced one of the best efforts ever seen by an Arizona team as Xavier won the meet with 22 points, while Desert Vista was second at 81.
The Gators set the big-school state record for lowest point total, breaking Mountain Ridge's mark of 28 set in 2006, but couldn't match the state record of 18 set in 1982 by Tuba City and Hope in 1990.
Desert Vista was led by junior Jenna Maack, who came in fifth (6th overall) in the team race with a time of 18:41.81, and she was backed by junior Brittany Tretbar (10th overall, 19:03.08) and freshman Dani Jones, who was 17th overall with a time of 19.29.84.
Junior Natalie Krafft (22nd, 19:41.10) and sophomore Lauran Owens (34th, 20:15.86) rounded out the Thunder's top five.
Maack's return to prominence was the story for the Thunder as she was a dependable runner as freshman, kind of disappeared to the bottom of the pecking orders last season, but along with Tretbar became Desert Vista's leader.
"Here is a kid that knows what it is like to miss something," Thunder coach Dough Christofis said. "They say you don't realize what you have until it is gone. Freshman year she was in my top and then last year she wasn't even in my top 10. That's 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. "I was trying really hard, but now it is behind me."
Mountain Pointe's lone participant was junior Cera Hassinan, who finished 27th in Division I with a time of 19:58.31.
In Division IV, Horizon Honor's Mikaela Martin finished second individually as the sophomore finished the 3.1-mile course in 19 minutes and 54.17 seconds. It was just about a full minute behind Pusch Ridge champion Sarah MacDonald, who clocked an 18:55.28.
The great effort put the sophomore in a position to be hungry to take the next step in 2012.
"I was trying to finish between five and 10," she said. "It feels really good. I started really fast my first mile, and kind of slowed down, but then I kicked it back in."
The Eagles boys team qualified and had a good showing as the finished 12th and were led by senior Galen Geislinger, who finished 25th with a time of 17:56.19.
"I wanted to finish in the top 14 (to get a medal)," Geislinger said. "I am happy with the way I ran, but disappointed I didn't get the medal."
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