For three years, Will Firth got by on just raw talent. He tantalized his coaches and teammates with his natural running ability, only to fall short in the biggest meets of the year because of injuries, illness and the fact that raw talent could only take the Brophy Prep senior so far.
“In my early years, I didn’t put in any effort,” Firth said. “I didn’t try really hard and for me it was okay because I was still a decent runner.
“I was tired of letting my team down and when I finally decided I wanted to be really good, I learned that it takes a lot and I can do it, but I had to put the work in.”
Firth did put in the work, using the disappointment he felt as a junior as motivation for his final prep cross country season. The result was a stellar senior season that earned Firth the Tribune’s Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year award.
“It felt awesome to do well all season long,” Firth said. “Every year I had something wrong with me towards the end. And this year, even though I didn’t win the title, just to be able to finish well, that was as good as getting the title.”
Firth ran to a second-place finish in the Division I state championship race, behind Yuma Cibola’s Bernie Montoya. Firth did win invitational titles at the Doug Conley Invite, the Geroge Young Elite Cross Country Invitational, the Sole Sports Running Zone XC Festival and the Ray Wherley Invitational.
Firth’s performance this year made up for a disheartening junior season in which he finished 44th at the state cross country meet and then struggled at the state track meet later in the year.
“My friend (teammate Tommy Williams) won the 1,600 (in track) and I had been beating him all year,” Firth said. “It could have been mine. I was very distraught after that.
“I guess it translated into motivation for the next year. That’s really what made me work so hard this cross country season.”
Firth worked out twice a day, running hard through June and July to get ready for this season. The preparation translated into being in better shape and that helped Firth avoid the late season injuries and illnesses that had been so troublesome in the past.
“I know that I did everything I could,” Firth said. “I know what I have to do now, and what it takes to be one of the best.”
All-Tribune first team
Name School Yr. Comment
Will Firth Brophy Sr. Solid, consistent all year long. Best runner in the Valley
Jared Hirschl Corona del Sol Sr. 4th in Div. I; near the front in every race he ran
Ryan Maack Desert Vista Sr. Thunder’s top runner; was 7th in Div. I.
Zach Wynn Saguaro Sr. 6th at Div. III race in lightning-fast 16:03.82.
Jake Wynn Saguaro Soph. Right behind brother at state in fastest race of the day
Cory Breinholt Highland Sr. 4-time Gilbert City champ, sectional champion
Fermin Villagran Skyline Sr. Runner-up in sectionals, placed 8th at state
Boys runner of the year: Will Firth, Brophy
Coach of the year: Kris Alexander, Mountain View: The Toros had to replace three of their top-five runners from 2009 and Alexander was able to do just that, leading the team to a runner-up finish in the Division I state meet. The Toros were just 10 points away from a state championship despite not having a finisher better than 10th.
All-Tribune second team
Name School Yr. Comment
Eduardo Roa McClintock Jr. Was 5th in Div. II. Top underclass finisher.
Ryan Dykstra Desert Vista Soph. Took huge step this year, was 10th in Div. I
Blake Cowan Mountain View Sr. 3rd at sectionals, was key component for Toros
RJ Massey Mountain View Jr. Came up big in biggest meets; was 11th in state meet
Jake Whitney Corona del Sol Soph Was consistent performer all year long; 19th in Div. I
Carter Macey Desert Vista Soph. 17th in Div. I; with Dykstra gives Thunder a bright future
Tommy Williams Brophy Sr. Finished year with 15th-place finish in Div. I
Cactus Shadows: Ethan Homan, Soph.; Coronado: Luke May, Soph.; Desert Mountain: Pietro Bomprezzi, Jr.; Horizon Honors: Brad Fullman, Sr.; Marcos de Niza: Julio Felix,Jr.; McClintock: Efren Luque, Sr.; Mountain View: Dallin Gherkins, Jr.; Perry: Patrick Hardwick, Jr.; Pinnacle: Ryan Williams, Sr.; Skyline: Randy Chavez, Sr.; Williams Field: Nathan Rodriguez, Fr.