It’s difficult to imagine, considering all she has accomplished so far, but Jessica Tonn did not have an individual state cross country title entering this season’s Class 5A-I meet.
The Phoenix Xavier junior standout can check that goal off her to-do list.
Tonn, who finished third last year and won four state track titles this past spring, made it look easy in winning her first individual title Saturday at cave Creek Golf Course.
Her time of 17 minutes, 50.9 seconds was more than a minute better than runner-up and teammate Sarah Penney. She was also the only girl in any class to post a sub-18 minute time.
“Finally,” Tonn said. “To get the individual win is awesome, but to help my team feels even better.”
Paced by Tonn and Penney’s efforts, the Gators also repeated as team champions, finishing with 87 points. Mesa Mountain View (95 points) made it interesting, putting a pair of runners in the top eight.
“We thought we would need about 85 points,” Xavier coach Dave Van Sickle said. “We knew if we could get first and second, we would need to average about 25th from there. It just happened to work out.”
Xavier’s other three runners averaged 28th place, led by Katie Penney’s 12th place finish.
“I knew Mountain View was going to come after us and want that title,” Tonn said. “You never know what can happen. Everyone just did a great job of pushing themselves all day.”
Mountain View freshman Brianna Decker led the Toros with a sixth-place finish (19:49) and senior Cami Jackson, who only ran three meets this year due to a hip injury, placed eighth (19:56).
“We knew we could surprise some people. I don’t know if anyone else did,” Toros coach Bill Webster said. “We didn’t win many meets this year, and we’re young, but the youngsters got after it today.”
Among local runners, Chandler Hamilton’s Taylor Cole finished third in 19:20, and Gilbert Highland’s Ann Bawden (19:44) was fifth.
Highland took third in the team standings and Tempe Corona del Sol was fifth.
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