This week at CAA we are highlighting Melissa Rigazio our Cross Country Director. Melissa fell in love with running in the 4th grade and once she discovered that there was a sport dedicated to it, she never looked back. “I love the control of running. Your personal dedication determines your outcome and I love that. Cross Country really is a lifestyle- that is what makes an entire community of runners feel like family.”
Q & A with Melissa Rigazio
How did you become the CAA Cross Country Director?
Before I was the CAA Cross Country Director, I was a coach within our association. I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to build a Cross Country team for one of our member schools and earn some championship titles. I loved the organizational aspect so much that CAA presented me with the opportunity to organize for our association. I have watched this program grow from fewer than 100 participating athletes to now over 1000! I am so blessed to do something I have a sincere passion for. Watching these awesome athletes each week is honestly the best job ever. Our coaches are doing a fantastic job with these athletes.
How is the 2019 season going so far?
I am loving the growth we are seeing in this season! We have new schools and new athletes that are really loving this amazing sport and it shows by their performance standards each week.
Are there any schools we should be keeping an eye on?
We have some pretty close competition in a few of our divisions that make for an exciting season!
HS Men have some tight races in the DI and DII. (DI) Josh Marsh (PVCP), Emery Bird (Jones-Gordon) and Armand DeBray (BASIS Mesa) are battling for the Lionship title this season. (DII) Tannis Manha and John Schlerf (both Heritage Gateway) are battling as teammates for the title. Our HS Ladies at Trinity Christian are showing the benefits of pack-running and how that leads to a win.
On the JH side, we have a super close battle with the defending Lions, ALA Queen Creek and Champion Chandler in the DIII girls division. Don’t count out Paradise Honors- they are hot on the heels as well. DIII Boys is a HOT race this season. ALA Queen Creek, Champion Chandler, ALA Gilbert, Paradise Honors, and ALA Ironwoood are on fire! I know those coaches are calculating every point to the end. Keeping a healthy team is going to be key in that race at State.
DII Heritage Gateway has shown to be a force this season in both the boys and the girl’s division. Boys DII Champs is a SUPER close battle between Luke Samuelson (BASIS Mesa) and Elijah Tanon (Leading Edge Maricopa). It could literally be a photo finish between those young men.
DI Girls standout Mariza Chavez (Carden of Tucson) is going after another State Title. DI Boys Team Destiny has been killing it this season. The individual Champ in DI Boys is going to be a battle between Tim Ortiz (Val Vista) and Michael Salazar (Grande Innovation)
Any memorable moments this year you can share with us?
I LOVE the team-building moments that I see at the meets. I adore walking by our teams and hearing the coaches giving them motivational speeches or watching our teams in group before a race. War paint, socks, hair ties…the team spirit is always my absolute fave!
What piece of advice can you share with all of our cross country student-athletes?
Don’t ever lose the love of the sport. Running is as much a personal achievement as it is a team achievement. Always be proud of your own personal accomplishments- the little accomplishments always add up to be something pretty spectacular. One of my favorite quotes- ‘That voice inside your head that says, “you can’t do this” is a liar’
Can you explain what the HS CAA Perseverance Series is?
This is a new series CAA has organized for our HS athletes. Each Series Meet we take the team points and add them up. The team that competes in all 4 series meets with the lowest team point total wins the Perseverance Cup. The really cool thing about this Series Cup is it doesn’t split the meet by divisions so it allows our schools to see the top-ranked HS athletes of the season.
Click here to see our upcoming schedule, rankings, and results. Reminder, only 22 days left until our state championship!