Sports: Impressive outcomes for area athletes


Last week was important for the Tempe-area high schools which competed against each other in the Tempe City Meet held at Desert Vista High School.

This year the schools competed at three levels giving all athletes a chance to compete against quality opponents. Although no team scores were kept, Corona, Marcos de Niza, McClintock and Tempe high school athletes had some significant finishes.


Corona Track and Field — Corona’s track team is using the last two meets in April to increase the number of athletes who qualify and to ramp up their performance for the state track meet scheduled May 4 and May 7 at Mesa Community College.

“We are in about the same position we were last year with a great chance to win the DI State Championship,” said head coach Tim Kelly. “We are working on correcting some things from last year these last few weeks and should be stronger for state.”

Corona’s boys team had a good outing at the Tempe City Meet ultimately winning three first place, three second place, three third place and three fifth place finishes in the track events and two second, two third, one fourth and a fifth place finish in the field events.

The Aztecs’ strongest varsity level track event was the 3200 meters where Liam Kovatch, Lucas Ykema and Slade Sumners finished one, two, three.

Graham Eversden had a great first place finish in the 1600 meters with teammate Kovatch coming in third.

Eversden, only a sophomore, is ranked at in the 2016 Top 10 Rankings in Outdoor Track at No. 6 in Arizona and No. 4 in DI.

“Graham works really hard at practice and it’s starting to pay off with his mile and 800 meter times,” said Kelly. “In the next couple of years, as he gets stronger, he should be able to double up and run both races in some earlier meets. It would enable him to qualify early for state in both events and give him a chance to finish in the top five before he graduates.”

Liam Kovatch is listed in the same Top 10 Rankings at No. 7 in both the 1600 meters and 3200 Meters for DI. Sumners is No.9 in DI in the 3200 meters.

“The hard work Liam put in during the off season is clearly paying off,” said Kelly. “He decided he wanted to get better and his times are dropping dramatically this season.”

“He should have a good state meet but we are also happy with his maturity this season,” said Kelly. “He is becoming a great teammate and leader on our team.”

Jalen Bryant, probably the Aztecs’ best short-distance runner placed second in both the 100 meters and the 200 meters.

Jacob Onofrio, ranked in the Top 10 Rankings at No. 7 in DI in the 800 meters, finished third in this same event.

The Aztecs’ varsity 4×800 relay team of Eversden, Onofrio, Jamaree Johnson and Anthony Sarno are ranked No. 6 in the DI Top 10 Rankings. Corona’s 4×800 relay team crossed the finish line first at the Tempe City Meet.

Although the 4X400 relay team finished second in the Tempe City Meet, the relay team of Benjamin Miller, John Rea, Johnson and Josh Onwardi moved up to No. 6 in the Top 10 Rankings based on their 3:25.61 finish.

Corona’s other top five varsity finishers in the track events at the Tempe City Meet included Rea’s fifth place finish in the 400 meters and Adam Knuff’s fifth place in the 300 meter hurdles

In the field events, Josh Onwardi and Mitchell Warnock were the top finishers for the team. Onwardi, previously ranked at No. 8 in the Top 10 rankings for DI jumped to No. 6 with his 6-07.00 high jump at the Tempe City Meet.

“Josh has been working on some aspects of his high jumping all season that came together at the Tempe City Meet,” said Kelly. “He hit the mark we have been working on for a year. Now that he’s jumped that height, the mental block is beat and I expect him to go higher and higher.”

Mitchell Warnock, ranked No. 6 in DI in the pole vault, finished second at the Tempe City.

“Mitch is one of the most talented athletes on our team,” said Kelly. “He sprints, does the long jump and is it getting better every week in the pole vault.”

“He’s almost there finishing up some technical aspects in the pole vault but has gotten over the 16-foot mark,” said Kelly. “He has a chance to be ond of the best pole vaulters this state has seen.”

Other top field event finishers were Nate Marshall’s third place in the high jump, Akash Patel’s third in the shot put, Tyler Black’s fourth place in the pole vault and Patric Bjotvedt’s fifth place in in the shotput.

Corona’s girls team had some exceptional performances in the track events taking first place in three individual running events and one relay event at the Tempe City Meet.

“Yes, the girls team has some young kids who are stepping up into big time varsity roles helping us do great this season,” said Kelly.

Jackie Martin, in the 400 meters, Renee Payne, in the 800 meters, and Alexis Artiaga in the 3200 meters, all crossed the finish line in first place.

Martin and Payne, both juniors, are ranked in the 2016 Top 10 Rankings in Outdoor Track found at Martin is ranked No. 8 in the 400 meters and Payne is ranked No. 4 in the 800 meters in DI.

“Jackie, who has bounced back from being injured last season, is one of the best sprinters in the state. She should be in the finals of the 400 meters,” said Kelly. “Renee is our best mid-distance runner and has a good chance for her best finish this season at the state meet.”

In addition to her first place finish in the 3200 meter run, Alexis Artiaga placed second in the 1600 meters.

“It was huge for Alexis to win the 3200 meters and then she had an opportunity to win the 1600 as well,” said Kelly. “She is doing great, peaking at the right time, consistently hitting personal bests each time out.”

Additional top finishers in the track events for the girls varsity team included Kelsey Lum’s third place finish in the 300 meter hurdles, Melissa Hayhurst’s fourth place finish in the 100 meter hurdles, Marbella Dominguez-Gil’s fifth place in the 100 meters and Mackenzie Harder’s fifth place in the 800 meters.

Josephina Wright’s fifth place finish in the pole vault and Delaney Mohr’s fifth place finish in the high jump were the top varsity finishers in the field events.

Wright is ranked at No. 8 in the Top 10 in DI for her 11-foot pole vault.

Baylee Watson was sixth in the shot put, Veronica Core sixth place in the high jump, Kiyanni Lester was sixth in the triple jump, Mohr was seventh in the long jump, and Marina Bafaloukos 7th in the pole vault.

The Aztec had one more meet to qualify for the state track meet on April 27 at the Desert Vista Las Chance track meet. So far coach Kelly estimates that at least 40 athletes from Corona have qualified for the state meet.


Marcos de Niza Track and Field — The Padres, competing at the DII level in track, had several athletes compete at the varsity level against DI Desert Vista, Mountain Pointe and Corona.

The 4×100 relay team of Avery Sanders, Marcus Naisant, Shaun Richards and Carter Lindsay took first place outrunning the Thunder, Pride and Aztec teams.

Other top finishers in the varsity track events included Carter Lindsay’s third place and Ryan Capeloto’s fifth place in the 100-meter dash.

Capeloto was fourth in the 300 meter hurdles and Jordan Johnson was fourth in the 400 meters. Kepano Ream participated in three running events placing fifth in the 3200 meters, 10th in the 1600 meters and 13th in the 800 meters.

The 4×400 relay team of Johnson, Eric De la Garza, Qadar Njuguna and Eli Schira took fifth place while the 4×800 relay team of Dante Arellano-Chavez, Dominic Martinez, Christian Marquez and Miguel Calderon placed fourth.

In the field events, Naisant led the Padres with a second place finish in the triple jump and a fourth place finish in the long jump.

Njuguna took seventh in the triple jump and 10th in the long jump while Marcus Organek was 10th in the shot put and 11th in the Discus.

The Marcos de Niza girls team competed mainly in the open level but did have a few athletes compete in the varsity events against the DI schools.

For instance, Jocelyn Martinez finished 10th, Kathryn Meyers, 11th, and Kyra Hermanson, 12th, in the 800-meter varsity run.

Kathryn Meyers finished 13th in the 1600-meter varsity run and Hebah Betha was 15th in the discus throw.

The 4×100 relay team of Martinez, Alexis Ross, Alohna Taylor and Melahni Washington crossed the finish line in third place.

Top finishers in the open events included a first place for Washington in the high jump, a third place for Jocelyn Posey in the pole vault, a third place for Annabelle Rangel and a fourth place for Taylor in the 300 meter hurdles. Rangel took fourth place and Taylor fifth place in the 100 meter hurdles as well.

Washington was fifth in the 100 meters and Braylen Drew fifth in the shot put while Chloe Fenicchia was seventh in both the long jump and triple jump.


McClintock Track and Field — Several Chargers competed at the varsity level at the Tempe City Meet. Deiontay Dozier, Albertsons Lindor and Abdi Aden were the top finishers at this level with a sixth place in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 800 meters respectively. Torren Baker was 10th in the 800 meters as well.

The 4×100 relay team of Adam Torregrossa, Dozier, Midhaga Gerado and Lindor were fourth at the varsity level while the 4×400 relay team of Elliott Nester, Lindor, Jack White and Isaiah Hall finished sixth.

In the varsity field events, Jazin Hodge was seventh in the high jump, Asher Hayton was 13th, Thinh Thach 15th and Noah Contreras 17th in the shot put and Hayton 8th and Thach 12th in the Discus.

In the open level, George Webster was the top finisher with a first place in the 300 meter hurdles and a fourth place in the 110 meter hurdles.

John Cleveland was fourth and Nathaniel Talkalai ninth in the 1600 meters and Torregrossa was fifth in the 200 meters and seventh in the 100 meters.

Jamir Williams was seventh in the 3200 meters while Nester was eighth in the 200 meters.

In the 800 meter open finals Cleveland finished sixth and Eric Marshall was 11th.

Nester, Torren Baker, Casey Brown and Cleveland were second in the 4×800 open relay finals.

In the open class field events Mason Leech finished third in the high jump and ninth in the triple jump while teammate Daniel Felix finished 13th in the same event.

Sophia Bruckner and Tianna Baker were the top performers at the varsity level for the McClintock girls team at the Tempe City Meet.

Bruckner finished fourth in the 200 meters and sixth in the 100 meters while Baker was fourth in the 800 meters.

Kennidee Hill finished 12th in the 100 meter hurdles while the 4×100 varsity relay team of Zy’Nique Simpson, Lynnique Carroll, Hill and Bruckner finished fourth.

Ziah Lawrence finished 12th in the discus and 15th in the shot put while Marissa Brantley was 15th in the discus.

The top performer from McClintock in the open class was Natassia Gorzen with a 2nd place finish in the high jump. Martha Gonzalez-Ruelas was fifth and Kennedy Nichols sixth in the 100 meters.

Gracy Penry was eighth and Siobhan Davis 10th in the 1600 meters.


Tempe Track and Field — The Buffaloes had several athletes compete at both the varsity and open levels at the Tempe City Meet.

Nate Manley was the top varsity athlete for Tempe taking third place in the 400 meters run and was part of the fourth place 4×400 relay team of Anthony Steele, Manley, Tony Tipton and Ivory Williams.

Tipton took seventh in the 800 meter and ninth in the 1600 meters. Teammate Joel Cano was 14th in the 800 meter and 15th in the 1600 meter.

Avery Worker ran in three varsity events finishing 13th in the 3200 meter and 16th in both the 800 meter and 1600 meter runs.

Omrao Emudianughe finished 14th in the 110 meter hurdles and 15th in the 300 meter hurdles while Williams was 15th in the 110 meter hurdles and 10th in the 300 meter hurdles.

The top Tempe finisher in the field events was the fifth place finish of Elliot King in the discus. King also took 12th place in the shot put followed by Issac Castro in 16th place and Joshua Dean in 18th.

Joey Savage finished in eighth place in the triple jump and 12th place in the long jump. Cameron Peters and Kaiden Chung competed in both events taking 10th and 12th respectively in the triple jump and 13th and 14th in the long jump.

A notable finish in the open class was the first place taken in the 4×800 relay team of Cano, Steele, Tipton and Worker.

Several athletes from the girls team competed at the varsity level including sophomore Danyella Miranda who finished fourth in the 1600 meters and sixth in the 800 meters.

Symantha Ramos and Rubi Aguilera ran in both races with Miranda with Ramos finishing in eighth place in the 800 meters and 11th place in the 1600 meters while Aguilera was ninth and 12th. Aguilera took 10th in the 3200 meters as well.

Asli Burnham Walker placed sixth in the 400 meters and Joslyn Murillo placed eighth in the 100 meter hurdles.

The Buffaloes 4×800 relay team of Aguilera, Danyella Miranda, Destiny Miranda and Ramos took third place while the 4×100 relay team of Cecilia Castro, Angelica Miranda, Murillo and Ryann Weathers placed fifth.

In the varsity field events, Morgan Boyd was the top finisher for Tempe with a third place for her 108-07 foot throw in the discus. Boyd also placed fifth in the shot put.

Lindsey Bell was ninth, Brittany Perkins 14th and Shekinah White 16th in the shot put. White placed 13th in the discus.

Weathers took fifth place in both the long jump and triple jump. Angelica Miranda was 13th in the long jump and Murillo was 12th in the triple jump.

Karla Islas Ayala, competing in the open events as a sophomore, finished fourth in the 400 meters and fifth in the 200 meters.


Marcos de Niza Football Coach Recommended — After two years as head coach, Sean Morin, with a 17-8 record, stepped down from the head coaching position to pursue other interests. The Padres had one of their best records (12-3) in 2015 playing for the DII state championship.

On April 15, Marcos de Niza recommended to the Tempe Union High School District Governing Board that Paul Moro be approved as the school’s Varsity Head Football Coach.

Moro brings a long history of Arizona high school coaching experience, close to 40 years, and most recently coached at Poston Butte. If the Padres keep up their winning ways under coach Moro, he will soon become the winningest high school football coach in Arizona history. He only need seven more wins to earn this record.

He brings a long list of accolades but probably what matters most to the Padres football players and fans is that the team keeps winning.

Moro and the Padres should return quarterback Nazareth Greer for his senior season and a bevy of offensive and defensive players with state playoff experience. Greer passed for over 3000 yards with 24 touchdowns last season.

The Padres did lose their two top rushers to graduation in Shaun Richards and Avery Sanders but should return their third leading rusher Zyayre Moss who carried the ball 48 times for 377 yards. The same is true for receptions. Marcos loses Richards but has the second leading receiver, Marcus Naisant returning.

Moro attended California State University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education while playing football on a full athletic scholarship. He will be teaching P.E. and weight training at Marcos de Niza.


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