Maloneys guide the Demons through Desert Twilight

The Demons ran in the desert late Friday night.

The Durango High School cross country runners traveled to the Phoenix area for the sixth annual Desert Twilight Cross Country Festival. One of the largest multi-state cross country meets in the nation, the Desert Twilight attracted more than 6,000 runners with more than 15,000 spectators on hand.

The races, including top teams from Arizona and California, are staged at night because of the heat.

“We finished 10th in both the girls and boys categories,” Durango cross country coach David McMillan said in an email to The Durango Herald.

“The Demons ran their hearts out in the sweaty heat of the Arizona desert,” McMillan said. The temperature was 75 degrees when the Demons started their race at 9 p.m. local time.

Just two hours earlier, the temperature was 95 degrees.

“Joe and Shannon led the way with top-20 finishes,” McMillan said of the Maloney brother/sister duo. “And we had five (personal records).”

The prep 5K was staged on the Toka Sticks Golf Club in Mesa, Ariz.

DHS senior Joe Maloney finished 14th in the top boys high school division. He finished in 15 minutes, 58 seconds.

Bernie Montoya of Cibola High School in Yuma, Ariz., the No. 1-ranked high school runner in the country, won the race for the second consecutive year.

He finished in 15:12, 12 seconds ahead of Andy Trouard of Salpointe Catholic (Tucson, Ariz.).

“The boys pack looked strong,” McMillan said of the DHS boys team.

Gordon Gianniny of DHS, a sophomore, finished 63rd in Mesa (16:43). Teammate Nicholas Turco, a freshman, was 65th (16:45). Alastair McMillan, a junior, finished 83rd for DHS (16:59). Teammate Sean McLaughlin, a junior, was 97th (17:06). Trent Andrews finished 140th (17:44). Colin Francom was 160th (18:03).

“Trent ran a great last mile,” McMillan said. “Collin dashed home with a very strong home stretch.”

DHS sophomore Shannon Maloney finished 16th individually in the star-studded girls prep field. She finished in 18:44.

Sarah Fakler of Xavier College Prep in Phoenix won the race for the third consecutive year (17:34).

Ashley Helbig of Great Oak High School in Temecula, Calif., was second (18:07).

“HP (Hannah Peterson) ran a PR of 19:47,” McMillan said.

Sarah Bates (20:45) of Durango was 72nd. Carly Pierson (20:52) finished 75th. Katarina Seibert (21:25) was 87th, and Emily Schaldach (21:39) was 94th. Emily Fogel (21:40) was 96th.

“The girls are getting into their groove for the final stretch of the season,” McMillan said.

He said the experience of racing under the lights and fireworks was unique.

“It made for a great spectator race. The kids were in and out of view, and they wove through palm trees, negotiated ditches and sprinkers and mastered what was not an easy course,” McMillan said.