Varsity Extra

Boise cracks top 10 in cross country rankings, adds win at prestigious Arizona meet

The Boise High girls cross country team won the sweepstakes race at the 12th annual Desert Twilight Festival on Friday night in Casa Grande, Arizona.
The Boise High girls cross country team won the sweepstakes race at the 12th annual Desert Twilight Festival on Friday night in Casa Grande, Arizona. Courtesy of Aaron Olswanger

The Boise High cross country team didn’t get much sleep Friday, but the deprivation was totally worth it.

The Braves met at the Boise Airport at 5 a.m. Friday to catch a flight to Phoenix so they could race later that night in the 12th annual Desert Twilight Festival.

Under the lights at Grande Sports World Complex in Casa Grande, Boise became the first team outside of Arizona to win the girls sweepstakes race. The No. 7 Braves totaled 87 points to beat 24th-ranked Niwot (Colorado), which finished second with 118.

“They were put at a disadvantage traveling all day and then racing at night,” Boise coach Aaron Olswanger said. “But they stepped up and did well, and now we can rest.”

All of Boise’s runners clocked personal-best times, and three Braves finished the 5-kilometer course in under 18 minutes.

Senior Maggie Liebich was the first Boise runner to cross the finish line, in 17 minutes, 27 seconds, followed by sophomore Rosina Machu (11th, 17:49), senior Eve Jensen (17th, 17:56), junior Molly Elliott (31st, 18:15) and freshman Mikella Tobin (36th, 18:24).

Last weekend, Boise upset then-No. 3 Great Oak (California) to win the Bob Firman Invitational at Eagle Island State Park. The victory propelled the Braves from No. 14 to No. 7 in Dyestat.com’s national rankings.

To win the Desert Twilight, Boise held off three other teams in the nationals rankings: No. 17 Xavier College Preparatory (Arizona), No. 23 Cherokee Trail (Colorado) and No. 24 Niwot. They also denied Chandler (Arizona) a repeat title.

“The course was way flatter than we’re used to running,” Olswanger said. “It was really high energy out there. We didn’t get out particularly well the first mile, mile and a quarter, but we had a really nice middle of the race to get in good position. Just the last mile, our girls are built for that.”

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