Corona’s boys track team hopes to defend its DI State Championship this spring, returning 120 competitors out of the current 200 participating in track and field this season. But heavy competition may await from perienial favorite Desert Vista. “Our goal this season is to repeat on the boys side and to return to the top three for the girls team,” said head coach Tim Kelly. “The kids worked so hard in the preseason and had such a great attitude that the girls team is also pushing to get the team to another level and shoot for a championship as well.” Last year’s team was special, according to Kelly, but this year’s has its own personality and identity which have made them fun to coach. “There is an air of excitement about what we think we can do this season,” said Kelly. “We have a strong team this year with so many contributors in so many of the areas and events.” Both teams have done well in the fi rst two major meets with the boys team fi nishing second to Desert Vista at the Aztec Invitational held at Corona on March 6 and taking fi rst place at the Husky Invitation held at Horizon High School March 14. On the boys team, Kelly expects great things from several athletes including Marcus Wheeler, Alex Hart, Andrew Eversden, Slade Summers, Colt Sample and Tyler Thompson in the distance events. So far so good for Wheeler, who took fi rst in the 3200 meters while Hart was fourth at the Aztec Invitational. Wheeler also fi nished fourth in the same meet at 1600 meters, while Graham Eversden placed fi fth in the 800 meters. At the Husky Invitational, Wheeler stayed true to form taking both the 1600 meters and the 3200 meters just ahead of Aldo Marquez from Gila Ridge in both events. In the shorter distances or sprinting events, Kelly has targeted Jalen Bryant, Jamaree Johnson and Sascha Delzeplh to perform well as the season progresses.
Bryant has been the top finisher for Corona in the 100 meters, including taking sixth place in both the Aztec and Husky Invitational while Joshua Onwordi placed second in the 200 meters at the Husky Invitational. Brothers Diego and Carlos Parra along with Tyler Stehr and Austin Hornbaker were predicted by Kelly to run the hurdles for Corona. Stehr recorded the fastest time in the 300 meter hurdles at both the Aztec and Husky Invitational, while Carlos Parra came in sixth at the Aztec and eighth at Husky. In the 110 meter hurdles, Stehr again led the Aztec hurdlers, fi nishing in third place while Parra was eighth and Hornbaker 10th at the Aztec Invitational and all three fi nished in the top fi ve at the Husky. Corona has steadily improved in the field events over the past few years, according to Kelly. Athletes predicted by Kelly to continue earning points for the Aztecs include Mitch Warnock, Hunter Sample, Dakota Summers in the long and triple jump, Akash Patel, Matt Fick, Pat Bjotvedt and Tanner Millyard in the discus and shot put events, while Sam Schultz, Onwordi and Collin Freeland prove Corona has expanded its competitiveness in the high jump and pole vault events. Schultz has led the way by taking fi rst place in the high jump, clearing 6’6” at the Aztec Invitational and 6’7” at the Husky Invitational. Summers jumped 42-02 in the triple jump fi nals to take second at the Husky Invitational, while Tanner Millyard hit 42-11 in the shot put.
Corona has always been strong in the 4×800 relay and it continued that tradition when Daniel Bish, Eversden, Colt Sample and Jamaree Johnson won at the Aztec Invitational. Newcomers to the boys team expected to help Corona improve over the season include Josh Whitney, Sean Freeland, Griffi n Monfette- Baker and Adam Knuff . The girls team started the season by placing fourth at the Aztec invitational and fi fth at the Husky. The girls team should expect to see points won and improvement over the season from Alexis Artiaga, Sydney Bussler, McKenzie Harder, Kelly Naumann and Amberly Ricks in the distance races and Melissa Hayhust, Matty Holly, Jackie Martin, Renee Clary, Izzy Cartegena, Simone Firestone, Brook Frahm and Kylie McClosky in the shorter races and hurdles according to Kelly.
Martin did not disappoint by starting the season, taking second in the 100 meters at the Husky Invitational and third in the 400 meters at the Aztec Invitational, while Clary crossed the finish line in the 800 meters race second at the Husky and third at the Aztec Invitational. Naumann, perhaps Corona’s most experienced distance runner, placed fi rst in the 3200 meters at the Husky and took third in the same event at the Aztec Invitational. Naumann ran the 1600 meters for a second place fi nish at the Aztec as well. Lauren Hightower and Maggie Reid will participate for Corona in the jumping events while Emily Ferreira is competing in the throwing events. Newcomers that Kelly is expecting to give Corona their best eff ort over the season are Anna- Isabelle Peracini and Riley and Josie Wright. Both Peracini and Josie Wright showed they belonged on the team when both fi nished in the top six places in the pole vault event at the Aztec and Husky invitationals. “We have a great group of seniors and juniors committed to carrying on the winning tradition we have tried to establish over the past few year,” said Kelly. “In addition, we have sophomores and freshmen fi tting into roles and getting better every week. Many will be participating on varsity before the season is over.” “Our goals include continuing to build commitment, character and champions on and off the track, winning the City meet for both the boys and girls teams and giving the kids a great experience.” The Aztecs were scheduled to participate in a freshman/ JV dual meet at Desert Vista on March 17 before the highly competitive Chandler Rotary meet March 20-21.