The Maricopa High School Track & Field teams will bring multiple state pre-qualifiers to their meet Wednesday at Notre Dame prep, carrying on with what will likely be a successful season for the Rams.
Head coach Sheldon Hutchinson believes his well-rounded athletes, several of whom have already qualified for state, are on the verge of breaking school records, while others are improving so fast they could be winning medals and breaking records in no time.
Junior Jesse Gaines ran a two-minute 800-meter run in last week’s Aztec Invitational in Tempe, coming within one second of the MHS 800-meter record at 1:59.
The Rams finished fifth out of 21 teams at the March 3 competition.
“I think both our teams, our boys and girls, have a lot of strengths,” Hutchinson said. “For the boys’ side of things, the strengths are going to be in the jumps.”
Three MHS jumpers prequalified for state at the Aztec invitational.
Clearing 22 feet 2.75 inches in the long jump, Phillip Austin is just one leg of the state-bound trio.
Seniors Darrell Handy and his brother Terrell are the other two pre-qualifiers, jumping 6-4 and 6-2 respectively at the high jump.
The brothers also prequalified at the triple jump with Terrell grabbing gold by jumping 44-9 and Darrell finishing fourth with a jump of 42-5.5.
As for the girl’s, Hutchinson said, despite being young, some are showing signs of remarkable progress.
“We have a lot of new [girl] throwers,” he said. “But they’re actually improving each time they throw.”
Though not qualifying for state, junior Leilena Young came in 15th out of 59 throwers in the shot put event at the Aztec Invitational, throwing 30-2.
The lady Rams also did well at long distance running, with Megan Carr finishing 46th of 65 in the 1600 with a time of 6:22.26.
Hutchinson had nothing but praise for his current roster, though he did indicate it’s proving hard to develop and retain track and field athletes because of an unfortunate competition between interscholastic sports and club sports.
“It’s always a struggle with so many club sports going on,” Hutchinson said. “A lot of our athletes just get sucked away because, of course, it’s a financial commitment they’ve committed to, so it’s hard to keep them in and keep them going.”
The girls and boys track teams will face off against Notre Dame Prep in Scottsdale today at 4 p.m.