Work ethic pays off for Aztecs’ run at 5AI track finals

Corona’s track and field team has made great strides this season in revamping its program with a second place finish for both the boys and girls team in the Central region meet help May 5 and 7 at Desert Vista high school.

The Aztecs’ work ethic is starting to pay off just in time for the state 5AI meet scheduled May 13 and 16 collecting several first and second places finishes.

The Aztec boys 4 x 800 relay team of Wade Hooke, Matt Whitlatch, Michael Seall and Garrett Baker-Slama finished in first place at 8:14:95. Corona’s girls 4 x 800 relay team of Morgan Doerwieler, Katie Huch, Kristin Stroble, and Dani LeMieux  placed second at 10:07.95.

Corona had several other first place finishes including the boys 110 meter hurdles, both boys and girls 1600-meter run, and both boys and girls 3200-meter run in the track events.

Kyle Benson crossed the finish line first in the 110-meter hurdles at 14.50 and Nick Seifker was third at 15.01.

Danica Ganje continued her domination in the 1600 meter run crossing the finish line almost six seconds before the next competitor with a time of 5:22.93. For the boys team in the 1600 meter run, Corona’s Whitlatch was first at 4:23.48 and right behind Matt in second place was teammate Baker-Slama..

Corona’s long distance leaders Whitlatch and Ganje did not disappoint in the 3200 meter run either with both placing first. Whitlatch’s time was 9:48.02 and Ganje’s time was 11:31.58. Several other Aztec runners placed in the 3200-meter run including Daniel Wrapp who placed sixth for the boys team and Christina Freeman placed fifth for the girls team.

Corona had several other athletes finish strong in the Central region meet including Megan Benson who took second in the girls 100 meter hurdles while team mate Sydnie LeMieux was third.

The boys 4 x 100 relay team of Kyle Benson, Michael Lange, Austin Crothers and Brendan Tunstall crossed the finish line in second place. The girls 4 x 100 relay team of  Taylor Johnson, Megan Benson, Kristen Mahler  and Precious Woods was third.

In the 800 meter run, Morgan Dorweiler was fourth, Katie Huch seventh, and Kristian Stroble was 10th for the girls team and Whitlatch was third, Baker-Slama sixth and Michael Seale was eighth for the boys team.

Tunstall was fourth in the boys 100-meter dash and Lange was seventh. On the girls team, Ashu was fourth and Taylor Johnson fifth in the 100-meter dash.

William Johnson was fourth, Nicholas Woods, sixth and Katani Best seventh in the boys 400 meter run and Sydnie Buck placed fifth in the girls 400-meter.

Megan Benson placed fourth in the girls 300 meter hurdles and Syndie LeMieux was fifth. Tunstall was fourth in the boys 200-meter dash.

Corona athletes were also competitive in the field events taking first place in the boys triple jump and the girls discus throw and several second and third-place finishes.

Austin Malm jumped 44-07.25 to take first in the boys triple jump, Todd Lewis was fourth, Ian Casper tenth and Jake Buntrock was 12th for the Aztecs. Briana Viafale threw the discus 118-04.50 for a first place finish outdistancing the next closest throw of 115-01. Corona’s Samantha Kirgis was sixth and Alexa Hay was tenth.

Viafale earned more points for Corona’s girls team by taking second place in the shot put throwing it 34-00.50 while team mates Valerie Hackett and Kaylyn McGowan to eighth and ninth place respectively.

Malm took second in the boys high jump skimming over the bar at 6-02. Seifker was third and George Bafaloukus was seventh. Mike Swindle tied for second in the boys pole vault clearing 13-07.00. Alyssa Woelfel and Lindsey Kitchens tied for fifth place for Corona’s girl team in the pole vault.

Tunstall jumped 21-02.25 to take third in the boys long jump. Malm took fifth, Lewis was seventh and Kyle Benson eighth. On the girls team, Lianne Kline was fifth with a 15-03 jump while team mates Kaylin Villocino was 10 and Kylie Thomsen was 12th.

In the girls triple jump freshman Kline also had a good showing coming in fifth jumping 31-04.50 while Lauren Milovich was sixth, Kylie Thomsen eighth and Alyssa Ramsland was ninth for the Corona girls team.

Having already qualified for state, Mike Stahl took fourth place in both the boys discus throw and shot put. Stahl threw the discus 133-07 just ahead of Aztec Todd Peat who threw it 133-06. Kyle Winstead came in eighth and JP Dyament 11th for Corona’s boys team.

Stahl putted the shot 49-07 once again just longer than another Corona team mate, Dyament whose put measured 47-06. Winstead was seventh and Peat finished eighth for the Aztecs.

Corona’s track program will finish the season competing in the state 5AI meet held May 13 and scheduled to continue May 16 at Chandler high school track starting at 4:30. Corona will be represented by a number of athletes in the state meet with seedings going to the top 10 in each event although up to 24 athletes usually compete.

Corona boys 4 X 800 relay team is the No. 6 seed, Whitlatch is No. 4 and Baker-Slama No. 8 in the boys 1600 meter run. Ganje is seeded No. 8 in the girls 1600 meter run.

Both the boys and the girls 4 X 100 relay teams are seeded No. 6.

In the 800 meter run, Whitlatch is the No. 7 boys seed while Dorweiler is No. 9. Whitlatch is also running in the boys 3200 meter run seeded No. 5 while Ganje is the No. 4 seed in the girls 3200.

Corona will also be represented in the top ten seedings in the field events. Malm is the No. 4 seed in the boys high jump and the No. 5 seed in the triple jump. Swindle is No. 6 in the boys pole vault while Stahl is the No. 7 seed in the boys shot put. Viafale is the girls team only top ten seed coming in as the No. 2 seed in the state discus throw.


Boys Volleyball


The Aztec boys volleyball team was attempting to fulfill their motto of “ascent” this spring but fell one game short of making it into the state 4A-5AI tournament for the tenth straight year. The Aztecs have always played in a notoriously strong boys volleyball region but still made it to the state tournament every year where their highest finish was runner up to Mountain Pointe in 2000, Even though, this situation is a hard one for the players and coach to take.

The Aztecs finished ranked 17th overall and only the top 16 go to the state tournament.

“It is a tough situation to know that had we won one more game or had one of our opponents won a few more games, we would have made it the state tournament,” said head coach Brynne Evans. “Now we know what it feels like to miss the cutoff and we don’t want to find ourselves in the same situation next year at the end of the season.” 

Next season the team should return 10 varsity players but will be without the skill set and experience of seniors Steven Law, Tyler Liss, Brandon Lake, Alex Deem and Tres Kwilosz.

Team awards have already been determined with Tyler Liss being voted by his teammates as the most inspirational and the one they would choose to represent the team and be a good role model. Liss received the coveted Joe Selleh award.

The most improved player on the team was junior Josh von Allworden.

“Josh has a natural athleticism that he has demonstrated on Corona’s football and boys soccer team which made it easy for him to catch on to volleyball quickly and easily,” said coach Evans. “He progressed rapidly from newcomer to starter.”

Steven Law was voted MVP this season by the team.

“Our MVP, Steven Law, was someone who performed every time he stepped foot on the court,” said coach Evans. “He was a reliable, diligent and confident player.”

Law was also voted to the Tempe All-City team.

“Stephen Law was our workhorse and other teams could see that,” said coach Evans. “Even with that added pressure, Steven faced the challenge every time and succeeded.”

Next season, the Aztecs overall performance needs to be better to secure a spot in the state 5A-4A state tournament.

“We have learned a lot about ourselves this season,” said coach Evans. “We had many people step up and play positions that they were not very familiar with, which helped us to end up 17 overall with a 9-8 season record.  I am very proud of how far they have come.”


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