State Meet 2012

author Web Master - DVCC (Nov, 04 2012)

State Champs!!!


Thunder runners celebrate a fifth Cross Country state championship for Desert Vista High School (Phoenix, AZ). Pictured are Coach Hanson, Xavier Esparza, Jacob Walimaa, Tyler Bonebright, Zach Smith, Ryan Dykstra, Carter Macey, Alec Hoyt, Ryan Smith, Coach Williams, and Coach McDonnell. Photo courtesy of Austin Tielke (DVCC)

The Desert Vista senior class started its championship quest in June 2009. Six days a week, starting at 5:30 in the morning while their classmates slept, they pounded out mile after mile, pushing themselves to levels they didn’t know they had within them. And then they did it all over again and again, virtually every week for four straight years. Remind you of a classic song?

I’ve paid my dues
Time after time
I’ve done my sentence
But committed no crime

The sentence was extreme. A few quit. Several were injured. Senior captain Spencer Clason missed much of his final two years with the after-effects of a concussion. Senior speedster Troy Giordano had to sit out the whole season. Senior star Ryan Dykstra nursed a stress reaction throughout the summer and needed part of the fall to regain his stamina. Nagging injuries slowed other potential varsity runners. And then, just two weeks before the State Championship, Carter Macey – the Thunder’s top runner the past two years -- reluctantly bowed out due to a stress fracture. Desert Vista didn’t win the Tempe City Meet for only the second time in 11 years. Sitting out some top runners to determine the final team, DVCC placed just third in the Sectional Meet.

And yet the Thunder still believed they could win the AIA Division I State Championship.

“Yes, we did,” Coach Chris Hanson said after DVCC won it all on a demanding North Phoenix course on Saturday, Nov. 3. “As unfortunate as the news was, we didn’t dwell on the unfortunate. Carter’s character – he didn’t want the team to know, he didn’t want it to be about him – motivated us even more. The boys took it to heart.”

It’s been no bed of roses
No pleasure cruise
I consider it a challenge before the whole human race
And I ain’t gonna lose

Take away a likely top five finish by Macey, and with Corona del Sol and Gilbert Highland blessed with stars likely to finish in the top 15, the DVCC boys knew they would have to win with depth. With scoring based on each team’s top five finishers, they would need a pack of five runners to dominate the other two contenders’ No. 4 and 5 runners. And that’s exactly what happened.

“We had our bumps along the way, but we went in thinking we could win it. We knew we all had to step up,” said junior Jacob Walimaa, who stepped up to a surprising 10th-place finish in the team standings in a time of 16 minutes, 22 seconds.

Dykstra placed 16th in the team standings. “It was tough,” he said of fighting through injuries. “It just makes the title that much sweeter. Carter’s a huge reason we won state, just knowing how badly he wanted to be out there. How we overcame all the adversity just shows the character of our team. I can’t even describe how good it feels.”

Junior Alec Hoyt shed his Samson locks but not his speed, finishing 22nd in the team scoring. Seniors Tyler Bonebright (26th) and Ryan Smith (27th) were just four and five seconds behind Hoyt. All five ran the 5K in less than 17 minutes, tying a school record in the state meet, and freshman phenom Xavier Esparza nearly made it six, finishing in 17 minutes flat. Senior Zach Smith ran state for the second straight year and concluded his career 53rd. DVCC wound up with 101 points, comfortably ahead of Highland (135) and Corona (147). Corona had three of the top 12 team scorers but its No. 4 and No. 5 runners racked up 127 points. Highland had three of the top 25 scorers only to be surprised by what its coach called DVCC’s “clump of dudes.”

“Depth took care of that,” Hanson said. “If it were up to me, we’d count the top seven or 10, and we’d really dominate.”

With nearly 70 runners, including about 20 who could start for just about every other varsity team in the state, DVCC has Arizona’s deepest team by far, including 25 freshmen who could someday rival the accomplishments of the Class of 2013. DVCC will lose 18 seniors, including 14 who survived all four years. Arguably the deepest class in DVCC’s storied history, they progressed from fourth to third to second to first in the state.

“We’ll miss these seniors,” Hanson said. “They’ve raised the bar – again – and set a standard for the underclassmen to keep striving to chase.”

In the past 11 years, DVCC has finished in the top four in the state every time. Asked how many times the Thunder has won it all, Hanson wasn’t sure. “You lose track when you get old,” he said, smiling.

For the record, it’s five state titles for the boys, and one back when he coached the girls.

“It starts with the middle school programs. I can’t say enough about them,” Hanson concluded. “I get to work with the best kids in the best school in the state.”

So queue up Queen’s ballad once again...

We are the champions, my friend
And we’ll keep on fighting ‘til the end
We are the champions
We are the champions
No time for losers
‘Cause we are the champions … of the world

Related Information:

  • Race Results can be found here.
  • Team Results can be found here.
  • Pictures can be found here.
  • Videos can be found here.

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