East Valley Cross Country preview: Speedy recoveries - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

East Valley Cross Country preview: Speedy recoveries

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Posted: Tuesday, August 28, 2007 12:28 am | Updated: 7:13 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

You would think when one of your many accomplishments during the cross country season is placing second at the state meet, maintaining the status quo would be in order during the offseason.

Not so for Phoenix Xavier standout Jessica Tonn. More and more runners are seemingly refocusing their offseason workouts on quality over quantity. “We definitely did some of the same things,” Tonn said, “but we also added more speed work, tempo runs, strength exercises and core work. Hopefully, it gets us all better.”

That’s a scary thought for the remainder of the field in Class 5A-I.

Tonn is coming off a season in which she recorded the fastest time for a freshman in state history, placed third at the Foot Locker Western Regional meet and 24th at the national meet.

“She was pretty remarkable last season,” Xavier coach Dave Van Sickle said. “She puts 100 percent into everything she does.

“We try to hit a lot of different energy groups over the summer, so we do sprints quite often,” Van Sickle said. “Of course you are always working on building the aerobic fitness as well.”

Tonn isn’t the only returning top performer to tweak his or her offseason program.

Phoenix Desert Vista senior Matt Boughton, the reigning state champ on the boys side in 5A-I, said he also added more speed work to his workouts.

“You always want to get faster,” said Boughton, who led the Thunder to their second consecutive state championship last season.

The theory behind intervals — sprinting different distances, usually up to a mile — is to improve speed. Tempo runs typically involve longer distances at a slower pace than sprints, but quicker than someone’s respective race pace.

Rather than put in mile after mile to become fit, today’s athletes train faster in order to perform faster.

The athletes are still putting in 300-plus mile offseasons, but they also add strength training just to become stronger.

“We believe the stronger athlete is the better athlete,” Van Sickle said.

At Mesa Mountain View, boys coach Kyle Sawyer has his athletes ride bikes and complete pool workouts at least twice a week.

“I have seen the injuries drop. Especially with freshmen and sophomores whose bodies are not typically mature enough to handle the pounding of running,” Sawyer said.

“It also takes away some of the staleness. They aren’t just slogging through mile after mile on the road or canals.”

But even speed training, tempo runs and strength building has its limits, Boughton said.

“You have to be careful. You always want to go out and do these crazy workouts of 400 (meter) repeaters, but you want to be fresh for the whole season, too,” he said.

10 ATHLETES TO WATCH

Boys

Matt Boughton: Desert Vista, Sr. - Got better and better as season progressed, culminating with a 5A-I state individual championship and team title.

Jim Walmsley: Horizon, Sr. - Placed second to Boughton at state last year after winning Doug Conley title.

D.J. Johnson: Mtn. View, Jr. - After fourth-place finish last year, will challenge for title this year.

Derek Breinholt: Highland, Jr. - Hawks’ team leader after placing fifth at state. Marcus Shisler: Sr., Scottsdale Christian - Defending Metro Region champ; runner-up in 1A-2A state meet.

Girls

Jessica Tonn: Xavier, So. - Season kept getting better and better, placing second at Conley, second at 5A-I state meet, third at West Regional and 24th at national championships.

Aubri Carman: Mtn. Pointe, Sr. - Defending champ in Central Region, placed sixth at 5A-1 state meet.

Sarah Penney: Xavier, Jr. - Placed seventh at 5A-I state meet.

Natasha Vulic: Mtn. Pointe - Always in lead group, capped last season with eighth place in 5A-I state meet.

Loren Wynn: Saguaro, Jr. - Champion in Desert Sky Region, placed fifth in 4A-I.

OTHERS TO WATCH

Boys

Carlos Martinez, Jr., Dobson; Isaiah Klassen, Jr., Scottsdale Christian; Gwendal deBrunier, Sr., Pinnacle; Sherod Hardt, So., Queen Creek; Matt Conway, Sr., Desert Vista.

Girls

Carol Facinelli, Sr., Desert Vista,; Samantha Meyerhoff, Sr., Marcos de Niza,; Naomi Jimenez, Sr., Marcos de Niza; Madison Pohle, So. Chaparral; Brielle Smith, Sr., Valley Christian; Ashley Workman, So., Queen Creek

TEAMS TO WATCH

Boys

Horizon: Returns powerful 1-2 punch with Jim Walmsley and Ben Jankunas, who placed 25th at state last year. Huskies finished second to Desert Vista in 5A-I state meet.

Desert Vista: Thunder snuck up on people last year, but everyone will be keeping an eye on the two-time defending state champ this season.

Mountain View: Always competitive and returns enough talent to challenge for 5A-I team title after placing third a year ago.

Girls

Xavier: With the return of Jessica Tonn and Sarah Penney, will anyone be able to handle the Gators, who placed second to Tucson Salpointe at last year’s 5A-I state meet?

Marcos de Niza: Samantha Meyerhoff and Naomi Jimenez formed a dangerous duo last season and should do the same this year.

Desert Vista: Team placed fourth in 5A-I, despite missing Patricia Barela, who returns from a foot injury which forced her to miss entire 2006 season.

KEY DATES

Sept. 8: Scottsdale Running Company Cross Country Festival (Saguaro High School)

Sept. 8: Chandler Invite

Sept. 15: Ojo Rojo (Chandler High School)

Sept. 29: Conley Invitational (Kiwanis Park)

Oct. 17: Gilbert city meet

Oct. 1: Mesa city meet and Scottsdale city meet

Oct. 25: Chandler city meet

Oct. 27: Region meets

Nov. 3: State meet at Cave Creek Golf Course

DID YOU KNOW?

• As far as the girls field is concerned, the Central Region is arguably the most competitive in the state. Last year its four teams placed in the top eight at the 5A-I state meet, led by fourth-place Desert Vista. Mountain Pointe followed in fifth place, Basha was seventh and Corona del Sol, which won the region title, placed eighth.

• Individual runners in the girls 1A-2A field will actually have something to strive for this year. Jillian Klassen, who seemingly was around forever, finally graduated from Scottsdale Christian after winning the past three state titles. Her departure opens the door to a host of candidates to take over top billing.

• The Desert Vista teams definitely don’t like to peak too early. And who can argue with the results. The boys team placed third at the midseason Doug Conley Invitational, only to go on and capture the 5A-I state title. The girls team finished seventh at Conley and claimed fourth at state.

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