Coach Kelly: Aztec track team brings out group of ‘special’ kids

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By Alex Zener

Corona’s track team had the most state qualifiers in the school’s history at the AIA Division I State Championships held May 4 and 7 at Mesa Community College, at which the girls team finished fifth and the boys team sixth out of 38 DI teams.

“Between the boys and girls team combined, we qualified athletes in 69 events with 62 athletes participating,” said head coach Tim Kelly. “We had a special group of kids this year.”

The girls team finished in the top 10 in eight events at the championship meet, placing as high as third in three events.

“Our girls did another amazing job at state, finishing in the top six with only 60 girls on the team,” said Kelly.

Jackie Martin participated in three events at the state championships, finishing in the top 10 in all three and placing third in the 400 meters, third in the 4×400 relay and eighth in the 200 meters.

Martin’s time of 56.07 in the 400 meter prelims at state moved her up to third place in the Top 10 Arizona High School Performances.

“What a great season for Jackie,” said Kelly. “She was injured last year and decided in June to start training and lifting weights. Her physical change and increased strength were key to Jackie’s incredible performances this season.”

The 4×400 relay team of Martin, Melissa Hayhurst, Renee Payne and Isabelle Cartegena crossed the finish line with a time of 3:55.10, which not only gave them a third place finish but put them at No. 4 in the 2016 Top 10 Arizona High School Performances.

Renee Payne was another top- three finisher with a third place in the 800 meters. Payne’s time of 2:12.49 not only broke a school record but moved her into the No. 4 spot in the top 10 Arizona rankings.

“Renee trains nonstop in order to have a great season,” said Kelly. “She wants to be competitive at the next level. Her growth and ability as an athlete are limitless.”

Payne also ran the third leg of Corona’s 4×800 relay team that placed fourth at the state meet with teammates Alexis Artiaga, Mackenzie Harder and Mackenzie Burgess. Their finish in 9:34.89 ranked them at No. 4 in the top 10 Arizona rankings.

Other top 10 finishes at state included Melissa Hayhurst’s seventh place in the 100 meter hurdles.

“Melissa had a great state meet,” said Kelly. “She started the season injured, and in hurdles that can cause lots of problems.”

“Around spring break we started training her a little differently and she came back from the injury and was able to qualify for the state meet at No. 12,” said Kelly.

“She ended up placing seventh, improving her best time, and finishing before a competitor who had beat her in the beginning of the season from a rival school. It was a great finish to her career.”

Two other top 10 finishes included Josephina Wright’s sixth place finish in the pole vault and Kiyanni Lester’s ninth place finish in the triple jump.

Josephina Wright’s 11 ft. pole vault on March 24 at the Basha Co-ED relays ranked her at No. 9 in the top 10 for Arizona performances for that event.

Other Corona athletes competing well in track events included Artiaga, with a 12th place in the 3200 meters and 15th place in the 1600 meters.

“What an amazing year for Alexis Artiaga,” said Kelly. “She was city champ and then to qualify and place at state was so deserving of the effort she puts out at every race.”

“Alexis always gives it her best, going beyond the point of exhaustion and leaving nothing on the track,” said Kelly. “She set personal bests by seconds in almost every race the last month of the season, which is amazing in the distance races she ran for us. You knew when you had to help her off the finish line at the end of the race, she had given it her all.”

Riley Wright qualified in the 1600 meters placing 24th, while Mackenzie Harder was in 22nd place in the 800 meters.

Jasmine Collins qualified for and competed in the prelims of the 100m hurdles as did Hayhurst, Marbella Dominguez-Gil, Taylor Filan and Cartegena in the 4×100 relay prelims.

Competitors in the field events included Baylee Watson, who finished 14th in the shot put; Filan, 14th in the triple jump; and Veronica Core, who was 11th in the triple jump and 26th in the long jump. The boys team were close but missed the top five by less than five points.

“You always would like to be in the top five scoring but we were really close especially when you look at where the boys and our relays teams were seeded,” said Kelly. “The boys team should be really proud of the effort they showed at the state meet. It was a great accomplishment to finish where they did.”

Corona boys had seven top 10 finishes at state including a third place finish for Jacob Onofrio and a sixth place finish for Graham Eversden in the 800 meters.

“Jacob and Graham are two of our best runners,” said Kelly. “They push each other in practice and meets. It’s always tough when you lose a state champ like Jacob but we look forward to Graham returning next year.”

“Graham had a great sophomore season. It was great to see him as city champ. Jacob is a great athlete and it was awesome that he received Corona’s Athlete of the Year award.”

Onofria and Eversden are ranked respectively at No. 9 and No. 10 in the Top 10 Arizona High School Performances and No. 5 and No. 6 in Arizona DI rankings.

Josh Onwardi jumped 6-06.00 in the high jump to finish in third place while teammate Nate Marshall was ninth with a 6-00 jump.

“It took Josh a little while to get going this year but ended up hitting the 6’7” mark for the personal record he was looking for,” said Kelly. “He is a great athlete and good sprinter as well.”

It’s been a few years since Corona has been competitive in the pole vault but Mitchell Warnock pole vaulted 15-06.00 to capture third for Corona’s team.

“Mitch is extremely hard working and pushes himself like very few kids do,” said Kelly. “He is an excellent overall athlete who can do it all. Over time he could be a decathlete. He has a great future in track and pole vault.”

Jordan Meise jumped 43-07.75 to take 10th place in the triple jump.

In addition, Corona had two relay teams finish in the top six at state.

Placing third was the 4×800 relay team of Eversden, Onofrio, Colt Sample and Daniel Bish while the 4×400 relay team of Onofrio, Onwordi, Eversden and Jalen Bryant placed sixth.

Corona’s 4×400 relay team are ranked at No. 9 in Division I Arizona High Schools.

Also qualifying and placing in the track event were Tyler Black, 14th in the pole vault, Liam Kovatch, 16th and Slade Sumners, 24th in the 1600 meters and Sumners 13th, Kovatch 23rd and Lucas Ykema 24th in the 3200 meters.

Kovatch is ranked at No. 8 in the 1600 meters and No. 9 in the 3200 meters among Division I athletes.

Qualifying and competing in the prelims were Jalen Bryant in the 200 meters, Xavier Burrell in the 110m hurdles and Jamaree Johnson and Adam Knuff in the 300m hurdles plus the 4×100 relay team of Knuff, Bryant, Onwardi and Jack Fisher.

Placing in the field events was Patric Bjotvedt with a 12th place finish in the shot put and a 17th place finish in the discus. Akash Patel was 21st in the discus.

Tyler Black placed 14th in the pole vault while Mitchell Warnock was 24th in the long jump.

 

Marcos de Niza Track and Field — The Padres boys team finished sixth in the AIA Division II state tournament May 4 and May 7 at Mesa Community College behind the excellent performance of their 4×100 relay team and a handful of outstanding athletes.

The 4×100 relay team of Marcus Naisant, Ryan Capeloto, Shaun Richards and Carter Lindsay took first place with a time of 42.22. Their 41.98 time in the prelims put them at No. 6 in 2016 Top 10 Arizona High School Performances. Naisant also took first place in the triple jump, second place in the long jump and fifth place in the high jump.

Naisant is ranked at No. 4 in the state in the long jump and No. 6 in the state in the triple jump after his performance at the state meet. These same performances ranked him in Division II at No. 1 in triple jump and No. 3 in long jump.

Naisant set school records in the long jump, triple jump and 110m hurdles.

Carter Lindsay was sixth in the 100 meters and Ryan Capeloto was 21st in the 300m hurdles prelims.

Capeloto set a school record and moved up to No. 9 in Division II in the 300m hurdles after his 39.95 time at the Tempe City Meet.

Look for more state track results in the next edition.

Decathlon State Championship The week following the state meet, Marcus Naisant, the only athlete from a Tempe Union High school to compete, was third in the Arizona Boys Decathlon State Championship held Friday May 13-14 at Red Mountain High School after competing in 10 events against student athletes from all over the state.

He scored 6016 total points. His highest scoring event was the Javelin (800g) where he finished first.

In the other events, Naisant took third in the 100 meters, fourth in the 400 meters, 18th in the 1500 meters, sixth in the 110 meter hurdles, second in the shot put, 13th in the discus, tied for first in the high jump, tied for 32nd in the pole vault and was fifth in the long jump.

Carlan Naisant, another Marcos athlete, took first place with a throw of 59.83 meters in the Arizona Javelin State Championships held May 14 at Red Mountain High School. Marcus Naisant took third place with a throw of 57.04 meters. Both Marcos athletes places higher than athletes from Desert Ridge and Desert Vista.

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