By Alex Zener
Over the past four years and especially since winning the DI state championship in 2014, Corona has strived to continue its legacy of providing a quality track and field program that attracts all kinds of athletes who want to be a part of the Aztec team.
This program has proven to be successful simply based on the over 200 student athletes, including 85 key participants from last year’s program, who are part of Corona’s track and field team this spring.
“We are fortunate to have so many kids who are committed and willing to work hard at getting better for the overall team’s benefit,” said head coach Tim Kelly. “It is our goal that these kids will enjoy the sport of track, their teammates and the thrill of competing for their school and community and ultimately become better young men and women because of it.”
The boys and girls team this season have a combination of experience and depth that should bode well for the overall team by the end of the season.
“I was impressed with both the strong finish from our girls team and the experience our young boys team gained last season,” said Kelly. “Both teams should be poised for a great run this year but in different ways.”
“The boys team has depth and experience in both track and field events while the girls team will be the most competitive on the track but should get stronger over the season in the field events.”
“The girls team have athletes in all events who can and will contribute including a lot of girls who are out for track the first time,” said Kelly. “These new girls are finding their niche in several events plus everyone on the girls team works hard every day to get better which will pay off towards the end of the season.”
Some of these girls include Jackie Martin, Renee Payne, Melissa Hayhurst, Mackenzie Harder, Jasmine Collins, Meg Horvath, Kylie McCloskey, Riley Wright, Alexis Artiaga, Kaitlyn Webber, Kennedy Voigt, Rachel Kash, Abby Cordiak, Kelsey Lum and Kristina Phillips on the track and Delany Mohr, Josephina Wright, Baylee Watson, Kiyanni Lester and Marina Bafaloukos in the field events.
Martin had a great beginning to her junior track season when she placed second in the 200 meters and third in the 400 meters at the Aztec Invite, March 5, and then first in the 400 meters and third in the 100-meter dash at the Husky Invitational Track Meet, March 11.
Payne took first at the Husky Invite and second at the Aztec Invite in the 800 meters while Hayhurst took third at the Aztec Invite and third at the Husky Invite in the 100 meter hurdles.
McCloskey was the top finisher in the 300 meter hurdles with a seventh place finish at the Husky Invite while taking eighth place, just ahead of Collins, in the 100 meter hurdles at the Aztec Invite. Horvath placed fifth in the 40-yard dash at the Aztec Invite.
The girls top relay finish at both the Aztec Invite and Husky Invite was a second place at both meets in the 4×400 for Hayhurst, Harder, Martin and Payne.
Lester and Josephina Wright were the top finishers in the field events with a second place in the triple jump for Lester and a third for Wright in the pole vault.
Overall, Corona’s girls team placed second behind Deer Valley at the Husky Invite and fourth at the Aztec Invite.
The boys team finished first at the Husky Invite and third at the Aztec Invite to Desert Vista and Chandler.
“Our boys team is well-balanced and very deep across the board in the field events, relays and track events plus we have some talented athletes in the 100 meter and 3200 meter races this season,” said Kelly.
In the shorter races or sprints Jalen Bryant, Jacob Dorr, Adam Knuff, Jamaree Johnson, Alex Sheppard and Riley Breiten should be competitive this season according to Kelly.
Bryant proved he deserved the recognition by taking second in the 200 meters and third in the 100-meter dash at the Husky Invite while Dorr was third in the 40-yard dash at the Aztec Invite.
In the middle-distance races, Kelly has high hopes this season for Jacob Onofrio, the 800 meter run state champion in 2015, Daniel Bish, Sasha Delzepich, Graham Eversden and Colt Sample.
So far this season, Onofrio placed third and Eversden fourth in the 800 meter run at the Aztec Invite and then Eversden was first and Onofrio third at the Husky Invite.
Eversden went on to take third in the 1600 meter run while Slade Sumners crossed the finish line eighth and sophomore Dylan Waterhouse was14th in the race at the Aztec Invite.
Sumners was picked by Kelly to have a good year in the distance races along with Lucas Ykema, Liam Kovach, Andrew Fierra, Lincoln Johnson and Josh Whitney.
Kovatch showed why his name was on the list with a fourth place finish in the 3200 meter run at the Aztec Invite. Right on his heels were teammates Sumners in sixth place and Ykema in eighth.
At the Husky Invite, Kovatch crossed the finish line fourth in the 1600 meter run and Waterhouse was 11th while Ykema was fifth in the 3200 meter run.
Some names to watch for in the hurdles events included Carlos Parra, Jack Fisher, Sean Neely, Knuff and Xavier Burrell.
Fisher was the top hurdler for Corona with a fourth place finish at the Husky Invite in the 300 meter hurdles. At the Aztec Invite Fisher took 11th place in the 300 meter hurdles while Neely was 13th in the both the 110 meter and 300 meter hurdles.
Although Corona ran in all four relay races at both the Aztec Invite and the Husky Invite, the top relay team finish was a second place for the 4×200 relay team of Breiten, Dorr, Landon McFall and Benjamin Miller.
The 4×400 team of Bryant, Gish, Delzepich and Kim Hunter finished third in the Aztec Invite and second in the Husky Invite.
The Aztecs have athletes who can potentially earn points for the boys team in all six field events: pole vault, high jump, long jump triple jump, shot put and discus.
Mitchell Warnock competes in the high jump and long jump for the Aztecs but so far this season has scored the most points for the boys team in the pole vault event.
Warnock was recognized for his elite performance by taking first place in the pole vault at the Husky Invite. He was third in the same event at the Aztec Invite.
Another first place finisher in the field events was Josh Onwordi in the high jump at the Husky Invite. He placed second at the Aztec Invite just ahead of teammate Nate Marshall who took third in the same event.
Tyler Black, who is usually most competitive in the pole vault for the Aztecs, taking fifth at the Husky Invite and ninth at the Aztec Invite, is also right in the mix in both the long jump and triple jump field events.
Jordan Meise has been the top Aztec performer in the triple jump taking fourth place at both the Aztec and Husky Invite.
Patric Bjotvedt and Akash Patel, both seniors, are the leading Aztec finishers in the throwing events.
Bjotvedt was second in the shot put and fourth in the discus at the Husky Invite and then fifth at shot put at the Aztec Invite.
Teammate Patel was second in the discus at the Husky Invite and seventh in the shot put at both meets.
The next big track meet where both the boys and the girls team had an opportunity to show how they have improved was the NIKE Chandler Rotary Track Meet scheduled for March 18-19 at Chandler High School.
Up next, the Aztecs will be competing March 22 at Valley Christian and then March 24 at the 11th Annual Basha Co-Ed Relays.
McClintock Track and Field
The Chargers, a DII team, had several track athletes on both the boys and girls team compete at the Aztec Invite, March 5, against 13 other high school, most of whom were DI schools.
On the girls team, Lynnique Carroll competed in three individual events taking fourth place in the 100 meters, eighth place in the 200 meters and fourth place in the long jump.
She was also part of the 4×100 relay team of Zy’Nique Simpson, Carroll, Kennidee Hill and Sophia Bruckner who crossed the finish line in seventh place out of 13 teams.
Bruckner, Hill and Simpson also competed in the 100 meters while Bruckner, Elione Williams, and Hill ran in the 200 meters.
Williams finished 27th in the 400 meters while Tianna Baker was the long distance runner for the team taking ninth place in the 1600 meters and 14th in the 800 meters.
In the field events, Ziah Lawrence and Marissa Brantley both competed in the shot put and discus throw while Bruckner and Hill places 14th and 22nd in the long jump.
The top finisher for the boys team was Deiontay Dozier with a second place finish in the 40-yard dash with a time of 4.89.
Dozier also competed in the 100 meters taking 18th place followed by teammate Zachary Land in 32nd.
Land finished the 200 meters in 19th place while Isaiah Hall was 28th in that race but finished in 19th place in the 400 meters.
McClintock had four runners in the 1600 meters including Abdi Aden, ninth place, Torren Baker, 28th, John Cleveland, 36th, and Casey Brown, 39th place.
The Chargers had five athletes compete in the field events at the Aztec Invite: Asher Hayton, Thinh Thach, Wyatt Palmer, Jazin Hodge and Dozier.
Dozier was the top finisher with a 15th finish in the long jump followed by Thach, 20th in the discus, Hayton, 28th in the discus, Hayden 29th in the shot put and Thach 38th in the shot put. Palmer competed in both the discus and shot put.
McClintock will once again be challenging several DI schools at the NIKE Chandler Rotary Track Meet scheduled March 18-19 at Chandler High School.