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track and field

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West Coast Striders athletes Zanaa Ramirez and Gianna Chavez with coach Corey Nelson at Junior Olympics. Submitted

 

Maricopa has produced numerous youth athletes in multiple sports, with many records being broken and medals won for track and field in the past few years.

When speaking to high school and club coach Corey Nelson, it’s obvious his passion for the sport is a prominent part of his career.

“This will be my third year. I started off as an assistant coach with the [Maricopa High School] track program, handling the sprints and relays,” Nelson explained. “Maricopa is a cesspool of athletes.”

This summer, Nelson and his track club, West Coast Striders, took two Maricopans to compete in the USATF Hershey Junior Olympics Track and Field Championships. Maricopa High School senior Zanaa Ramirez and Legacy Traditional fifth-grader Gianna Chavez ran for the women 17-18 bracket and girls 11-12 bracket, respectively.

“They qualified for what we call Junior Olympics Region 10, which consists of certain states on the West Coast,” Nelson said. “They then take a limited number of qualifiers there, and they qualify for the Junior Olympics national championships and that involves the entire country.”

Both girls had strong results at the event, becoming Maricopa’s first two nationally ranked youth athletes in track:

800-meter run, women 17-18
Zanaa Ramirez 32nd place, 2:30.08 (qualified with time of 2:36.43)
800-meter run, girls 11-12
Gianna Chavez 19th place, 2:34.35 (previous 2:35.30)
1500-meter run, girls 11-12
Gianna Chavez 10th place, 5:07.56 (previous 5:14.25)

When asked how he prepares for these complex championships, Nelson said consistency and technique make the athlete.

“What we did was work on our speed and worked on a lot of technique. Most importantly diet, doing the right things off the track as well as on it,” Nelson said.

Nelson began his track career late into his junior year of high school. After competing in college and professionally, he has retired to coaching mostly, though he has also competed with West Coast Striders, winning Masters 60-meters at the USATF Arizona Indoor Classic. Being able to pass on a wealth of knowledge and firsthand experience has proved to be the backbone of his Club and coaching style.

He is now an assistant coach for the Sequoia Pathway varsity football team.

“If you’re not having fun with it, then you’re probably not going to be successful,” Nelson said. “One thing about track is not many people go undefeated. So, you know, watching them learn from it, watching them excel, be better people overall from the sport of track and field is always fun to watch.”

Whether it is training or just having a good time before completion, both are key components in the track and field experience.

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Senior Logan Taylor is one of the premier hurdlers in the state.

As the track & field regular season closes, Maricopa High School senior Jacob Cowing has the fastest time recorded this season for the 200-meter dash in Division II.

He won the event in 21.63 (a school record) Friday at the Southeast Valley Championship in Queen Creek. He also won the 100-meter dash at that meet in a school-record 10.71. That is the second-fastest time reported in the division.

Cowing was also a member of the 4×400-meter relay that finished second in 3:31.45. The relay team includes Spencer Gay, Logan Taylor and Amonte Williams.

Taylor, too, has continued to be a standout with remarkable consistency in his specialty events, the hurdles. His time of 14.51 in the 110-meter hurdles set March 8 in the Becky Matthews Open remains the second-fastest time in the division this year. It was also a school record. Friday, he finished third at Queen Creek in 14.73.

In the 300-meter hurdles, Taylor set another school record April 12 at the Hohokam Invitational, where he placed third in 39.09. He matched that time Friday while finishing second, and it is the second-fastest time recorded this season in Division II.

But there’s more. Taylor added the high jump late in the season. He leaped 6-2 at the Hohokam to finish fourth. That jump is among the top 10 in the division. He finished second on Friday with a jump of 6-0. After mulling college offers, Taylor said he has chosen to attend Brigham Young University to participate in both football and track.

Fellow senior Tylen Riley-Coleman hit a personal best in the shot put April 6 at the Greenway Invitational, where he put the shot 52-9 to win that event and improve on the school record. That is a top-10 distance this season in the division. Friday, he finished second with a throw of 52-2.

Coleman achieved a personal best in the discus at the beginning of the season, throwing 150-9.75 at the Aztec Invite March 2. That is seventh-best in the division all year and a school record. Friday, he finished third with a throw of 146-7. He also took a school record in the javelin back on March 2 with 158-11.

The Maricopa boys’ team finished fifth in the Southeast Valley Championship, the final tune-up for the state championships, which start May 1.

Other Rams with top-10 finishes in Queen Creek were senior Amonte Williams, who was third in the 400-meter run with a personal record 51.17; senior Alec Kramarczyk, who set a personal record in the 1600 meters by finishing ninth in 4:42.78; and junior Steel Lewis, who was ninth in the pole vault at 11-07 (personal record).

Maricopa’s 4×200-meter relay team has the sixth-fastest time this season in Division II after running 1:36.80 in the Hohokam. That team is comprised of Mister Chavis, Roberto Esqueda, Marcus Brown and Abel Rodriquez.

Also Friday at Queen Creek, the Maricopa girls’ team finished eighth in the Southeast Valley Championship. Junior Zanaa Ramirez won the 800-meter run in 2:29.63, a personal record. She was ninth in the 400 meters.

The 4×400 team of Kayla Boich, Shakira Gillespie, Ebony Griffin and Zanaa Ramirez was second in a division top-10 time of 4:12.48. The 4×100 relay team of Destinee Chavis, Boich, Griffin and Gillespie was fifth.

Boich finished second in the high jump at 4-10. Freshman Lauren Grist was sixth with 4-04. Gillespie, a sophomore, was fifth in the long jump with a personal-best 16-04. Junior Rylin Balgaard was eighth in the triple jump at 32-04.

The state meet will be May 1 and May 4 at Mesa Community College. Competition for Division II starts Wednesday at 11 a.m. with field events in the morning and running events in the afternoon. Saturday, all divisions will compete in their respective finals starting at 10:45 a.m.

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The members of the 4x100-meter relay team - Darrell Handy, Frank Jones, P.J. Austin and Longman Pyne - all won multiple medals at the Maricopa Twilight. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The Maricopa High School boys’ track and field team battled Basha for supremacy in the annual Maricopa Twilight meet Friday, ultimately finishing second out of nine teams. Unofficial results

The MHS girls’ team finished fifth. The athletes posted 37 personal bests during the competition at Ram Stadium. The event also served as Senior Night for the team.


Junior Phillip (P.J.) Austin and senior Terrell Handy picked up three gold medals each, competing individually and in relays. Frank Jones earned two golds and a bronze. Kyle O’Hare and Longman Pyne also won two events apiece, and Darrell Handy picked up gold, silver and bronze.

Austin won the 100-meter dash in 11.25, while Jones placed third. Austin also won the long jump with a personal record 22-3.5. Jones turned around and won the 200-meter-dash in a personal record of 22.90. Both were part of the victorious 4X100-meter relay team with Darrell Handy and Longman Pyne.

Pyne joined O’Hare, Terrell Handy and Chris Singh in winning the 4×400-meter relay.

O’Hare posted a personal record in winning the 400-meter dash in 50.96. Logan Taylor won the 110-meter high hurdles in 16.10, a personal best for him. Terrell Handy won the triple jump in 44 feet even and the high jump in 6-foor-2. His brother Darrell was second in the high jump and third in the triple jump.

The 4×800 relay team of Singh, Mark Mwangi, Sam Coles and Josh Valdez placed third.

Among the Maricopa girls, sophomore Kayla Boich walked away with two silver medals. She finished second in the long jump and was part of the second-place 4×100 team with Sydni Callis, Destinee Chavis and Saneya Cowing.

Sophomore Shannon Coutre was just off her school record in the 400 but finished second in her season-best time of 1:02.89. Italy Brookshire earned bronze medal in the high jump.

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Darrell Handy-Johnson comes in for a landing in the triple jump.

Maricopa High School’s track and field teams have had a busy March, and there is more to come.

Boys

The boys have won three meets, including the Gaucho Relays in Glendale. The Rams defeated Notre Dame in a head-to-head meet March 8 with a score of 84-53. At home March 22, Maricopa beat McClintock 84-59.

In the Gaucho Relays March 10, Maricopa was one of 20 teams in competition. The Rams proved strong on the track and in the field, earning six first-place finishes.

Among them, Phillip Austin won the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.13. Jesse Gaines won the 800-meter run in 2:01.98. Darrell Handy jumped his own height in the high jump at 6-foot-4 for another victory.

Maricopa’s  4×100-meter relay team took the gold in 43.94. The 4×400 team also won, posting a time of 3:29.92.

Also earning points with high finishes, Austin was second in the long jump with a leap of 21 feet, 9 inches. Terrell Handy was second in the triple jump at 42-10. Frank Jones was third in the 100 at 11.28, Darrell Handy was third in the triple jump at 42-9, and Terrell Handy was third in the high jump at 6-4. The 4×800 relay team was fifth in 8:39.05. Terrell Hardy was sixth in the long jump at 20-4, followed by brother Darrell in seventh with 19-10. Logan Taylor was seventh in the 110-meter high hurdles in 16.94. Xander Benitez was in a seventh-place tie in the high jump at 5-6. Dakota Halverson was seventh in the discus throw at 120-5, and Johnny Smith was 13th in the same event at 112-7 to earn points for the team.

The junior varsity competed at the Goldwater Underclassmen Invite in Phoenix March 17, finishing fifth out of eight schools.

Jacob Cowing picked up two first-place finishes. He ran the 100 in 11.6 and the 300-meter hurdles in 43.66 for the victories. Taylor picked up his pace in the 110HH to win in 16.47.

The 4×400 relay team placed second in 3:55.47. Taylor was third in the 300 hurdles in 45.79, and the 4×100 relay team finished third in 47.20. David Skelton was fourth in discus at 99-4, and he finished fifth in the shot put with a toss of 33-3. James Cutajar was fifth in discus at 95-1. Jake Meyer was sixth in shot at 32-6.5.

Girls

The girls have a win this season, defeating McClintock 105-21 on March 22. The lost to Notre Dame on March 8, 70-57, and JV had a good showing at the Goldwater Underclassmen Invite on March 17

In the Goldwater, the young Rams finished second by just nine points. Alayja Reynolds, Italy Brookshire and Eveyln Corliss won two events apiece.

Reynolds won the 100 in 13.46 and the 200-meter dash in 27.99. Brookshire was first in the triple jump at 27-11 and in the high jump at 5-0. Corliss won the 1600-meter run in 5:48.55 and the 3200-meter run in 13.34.32. The 4×100 relay team was also a winner in 53.10.

Saneya Cowing was second in the 100 in 13.5 and third in the 200 in 28.22. Reynolds finished second in the long jump at 14-8.5. Katherine Gores was second in the long jump at 27-10. Isabella Moe was third in the shot put at 24-8 and fourth in discus at 69-3. Bailey Davis ran fourth in 400 at 1:10.03. Destinee Chavis was fifth in the 100 at 13.97 and in the 200 at 29.12. Brookshire was sixth in the long jump at 12-4.

At the March 10 Gaucho Relays, the girls finished 15th.

Those scoring points were Brookshire with a tie for second in the high jump at 5-0, Leilena Young with third in the shot put at 33-2, Kayla Boich with a tie for fourth in the high jump at 4-10, and Moe with a 14th place in shot put at 26-4.

The team next competes Friday and Saturday in the Chandler Rotary Meet. Maricopa hosts its annual Ram Twilight Invitational on April 7 starting at 3 p.m. at Ram Stadium.

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Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

In their home meet, the Maricopa Twilight, the Maricopa High School girls track team took third place among 17 competing schools, and the boys finished seventh.

Maricopa athletes won three events and scored 66 points on the girls’ side. The boys totaled 42 points.

Freshman Shannon Coutré won the 400-meter dash in 1:02.31, her top time. Freshman Italy Brookshire tied for highest pole vault at 4-10.

Despite easing up at the end on a windy afternoon, senior Jada Wright won her specialty event, the 800-meter run, in 2:28.87. That is three seconds slower than her best time this season and less than six seconds off her school record.

It was also Senior Night at Rams Stadium, a good time for Wright to reflect on her high school career. Wright has run for MHS since her sophomore year. She quickly realized she was expected to be a leader.

“That took a lot of work,” she said. “Basically I had to put my mind to it. From then I would medal and take top three in all my heats and even made state my first year.”

As she works toward returning to state at the end of this season, Wright is pulling for the girls coming up behind her. She said she feels like “the old dog now” in giving them advice.

“I do feel like I have new competition now,” she said. “They’re fresh and new at this, and they’re already doing very well, so I know I won’t hold all my records for that long, which I’m very fine with, because I want them to improve and move on. So if they break my records I’ll be happy to know that they did it.”

Coach Sheldon Hutchinson said the young team is getting a lot of experience this season and expects the final meets of the season to give them higher competition.

“Hopefully, they’ll have that experience to be able to go to state and do well,” he said. “Even if that doesn’t happen, they’ll be able to come back next year and the year after that and even the year after that.”

Also scoring points for the girls, sophomore Megan Carr ran her best time in the 3200-meter run and finished third in 12:14.34.

Leilena Young was fifth in the shot put with a throw of 29-9. Jakayla Shaw was sixth in the 100-meter dash in 13.99. Jennifer John was sixth in the 100-meter hurdles in 18.25.

The top eight places in individual events score team points. Daniela Gracia-Rios was eighth in the 300-meter hurdles in 53.27 and in the 100-meter hurdles in 19.15. Aisawan Chanpraphag was eighth in the pole vault in a tie at 5-11. Mysia Hudson was eighth in the shot put in 28-1 and in the discus at 82-8.

The girls finished second in the 4X800-meter relay in 10:35.24.

For the MHS boys, P.J. Austin was fourth in two events and sixth in another. Sam Coles scored points in two events.

Austin finished fourth in the 200-meter dash in 23.08 and in the long jump in 19-8. He took sixth in the 100-meter dash in 11.85.

Coles was sixth in the pole vault at 9-0 and ran eighth in the 800-meter run in 2:08.82.

Longman Pyne was sixth in the 400 in 52.75, and Devin Parady was sixth in the triple jump at 28-9.75.

Just a fraction ahead of Coles, Jesse Gaines was seventh in the 800 in 2:08.29. John Blodgett finished eighth in the 3200 in 10:47.73.

The boys placed second in the 4X400-meter relay in 3:32.48 and were third in the 4X100-meter relay in 44.72.

The Rams next compete Friday at Westwood High School in Mesa in the Hohokam Invitational. The Division II State Championships are set for May 4 and 7 at Mesa Community College.

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Jada Wright. Photo by William Lange

The track and field team at Maricopa High School is preparing to host its Twilight Meet on Friday starting at 2:30 p.m. at Rams Stadium.

The Rams are coming off a strong performance at the Red Rock Invitational on April 2 in Sedona in what has been an up-and-down season.

“Although boasting a very young team we managed to show up big in the Sedona meet in the Freshman Sophomore Division as well as our few varsity (11th and 12th grade) athletes,” coach Sheldon Hutchinson said.

The Rams picked up personal and school records along the way. The boys placed second.

Among the boys at Sedona, sophomore Phillip (P.J.) Austin won the 100-meter dash in the F/S Division in 11:57 and also won the 200-meter dash with an MHS sophomore record of 23.29.

Sophomore Longman Pyne won the F/S 400-meter dash in 53.14. Sophomore Jose Villagran won the  F/S 800-meter run in 2:06.34. He was just ahead of sophomore Sam Coles in second with 2:08.48.

Sophomore Kyle O’Hare was second in the F/S 100 in 11.75 and third in the F/S 200 in 23.82. Senior Michael Herbig finished third in the varsity 400 in 53.50.

Devin Parady was third in the F/S triple jump competition with a jump of 38-2.

Junior Kenneth Oliver was eighth in the varsity triple jump with 39-7. Junior John Blodgett was eighth in the varsity 3200-meter run in 10:55.60, and freshman Alec Kramarczyk was eighth in the F/S 3200 in 11:06.14.

Among the girls, Jada Wright set an MHS senior record in the varsity 800 with a run of 2:25.11.

Junior Daniela Gracia-Rios set a school record in the 300-meter hurdles by bounding to a time of 53.62 and an eighth-place finish.

Megan Carr’s first-place performance of 12:32.40 in the F/S 3200-meter run set an MHS sophomore record. That was a full 20 seconds faster than her winning time in the previous meet.

Italy Brookshire was third in the high jump at 4-8, just below her freshman record.

“The team had other notable performance and PRs, but we are looking to break more school records this Friday at our Ram Twilight Meet,” Hutchinson said.

Maricopa team had its previous best finish of the season at the Becky Mathews Invitational in Phoenix on March 26.

The girls finished sixth, and the boys were eighth.

Carr won the 3200-meter run in 12:52.81, and Italy Brookshire tied for first in the high jump at 4-8.

Shannon Coutré ran third in the 400-meter dash in 1:03.56. Leilene Young was fourth in the shot put with a toss of 28-8.25.

On the boys’ side at the Becky Mathews Invite, Coles was second in the 800 in 2:08.93. He was also fourth in the 1600 (4:54.71) and tied for 11th in the pole vault (11-0).

Parady was third in the triple jump at 38-7. Kramarczyk was fourth in the 3200 in 11:12.40. Jesse Gaines was two slots behind him in sixth at 11:38.89.

Villagran was fifth in the 800. Gaines ran seventh in the 400. Pyne was eighth in the 100.

In the Nike Chandler Rotary Invitational March 19, Maricopa’s girls did not place as a team but had strong performances against challenging competition.

Mysia Hudson was eighth in discus, throwing 86-10. Wright ran 10th in the 800-meter run in 2:31.44. Coutré was 10th in the 400 in 1:02.85, and Hudson was 15th in the shot put in 29-3.

Among the boys, Pyne was sixth in the 400 in 52.6. Dakota Halverson was 10th in discuss at 110-2. Phillip Austin was 13th in the long jump at 18-11.

Maricopa’s boys finished 14th at the Rattler Booster Invitational to start the season March 5.  The girls were 21st in the team competition.

Red Rock Invitational, Sedona, April 2
Girls Varsity – Maricopa results
400-meter dash
28th, Megan Clayburn, 1:11.84
800-meter run
1st, Jada Wright, 2:25.11
17th, Amanda Macial, 2:48.08
34th, Tori Martin, 3:03.7
1600-meter run
23rd, Tori Martin, 6:51.43
100-meter hurdles
12th, Jennifer John, 18.79
17th, Daniela Gracia-Rios, 19.37
300-meter hurdles
8th, Daniela Gracia-Rios, 53.62
17th, Maria Gastelum-Parra, 1:04.92
4X400-meter relay
8th, 4:40.83
4X800-meter relay
6th, 10:56.17
Long Jump
15th, Aisawan Chanprahag, 13-9
Shot put
6th (tied), Leilena Young, 30-4.25
6th (tied), Mysia Hudson, 30-4.25
Discus
7th, Mysia Hudson, 85-0
12th Leilena Young 79-9

Girls Soph/Frosh – Maricopa Results
100-meter dash
2nd, Jakayla Shaw, 13.81
14th, Chalisse Bell, 14.52
200-meter dash
5th, Jakayla Shaw, 28.60
28th, Devyn Dutra, 31.84
400-meter dash
16th, Alondra Araujo, 1:15.14
1600-meter run
14th, Teresa Flores, 6:49.04
28th, Kimberly Vega-Sanchez, 7:49.14
31st, Alexandra Mask, 8:10.54
3200-meter run
1st, Megan Carr, 12:32.40
5th, Teresa Flores, 14:43.06
100-meter hurdles
17th, Maria Gastelum-Parra, 22.88
High jump
3rd, Italy Brookshire, 4-8
11th, Devyn Dutra, 4-0
Long jump
12th, Chalisse Bell, 13-2.5
17th, Maylee Von-Axelson, 12-8
Triple jump
9th, Maylee Von-Axelson, 28-1
Shot put
23rd, Rebekah Spencer, 15-10.75
Discuss
22nd, Rebekah Spencer, 43-10

Boys Varsity – Maricopa Results
100-meter dash
26th, Michael Herbig, 12.35
200-meter dash
15th, David Owens, 24.55
400-meter dash
3rd, Michael Herbig, 53.50
13th, David Owens, 55.18
19th, Marc Mwangi, 56.26
800-meter run
17th, Jesse Gaines, 2:11.39
20th, Marc Mwangi, 2:12.66
1600-meter run
7th, Sam Coles, 4;50.48
15th, Jesse Gaines, 5;09.55
18th, Geo Hernandez, 5;11.91
3200-meter run
8th, John Blodgett, 10:55.6
11th, Jayden Jensen, 11:19.86
13th, Geo Hernandez, 11:24.07
110-meter hurdles
11th, Kenneth Oliver, 18.43
28th, Darren Peecher, 22.89
4X800-meter relay
5th, 9:06.92
Long jump
5th, Phillip Austin, 20-5
7th, Kenneth Oliver, 20-4.25
29th, Joseph Ferland, 12-2
Triple Jump
8th, Kenneth Oliver, 29-7
23rd, Joseph Ferland, 29-0
Pole vault
12th, Sam Coles, 8-7
Shot put
15th, Dillon Cunningham, 36-2.5
19th, Nickola Carbajal, 35-2
28th, Dakota Halverson, 33-6
Discus
9th, Nickola Carbajal, 109-0
13th, Dakota Halverson, 104-7
14th, Charles Worden, 104-4

Boys Soph/Frosh – Maricopa Results                                        
100-meter dash
1st, Phillip Austin, 11.57
2nd, Kyle O’Hare, 11.75
14th, Jathan Washington, 12.44
200-meter dash
1st, Phillip Austin, 23.29
3rd, Kyle O’Hare, 23.82
400-meter dash
1st, Longman Pyne, 53.14
30th, Vincent Lebron, 1:03.58
800-meter run
1st, Jose Villagran, 2:06.34
2nd, Sam Coles, 2:08.48
1600-meter run
36th, Luke Stroschein, 5:59.67
3200-meter run
8th, Alec Kramarczyk, 11:06.14
24th, Matthew Malan, 13:41.21
110-meter hurdles
7th, Logan Taylor, 19.08
8th, Jonathan Childers, 19.38
24th, Lorenzo Childers, 23.31
300-meter hurdles
15th, Jonathan Childers, 50.91
23rd, Lorenzo Hernandez, 56.90
25th, Darren Peecher, 58.72
High jump
10th, Logan Taylor, 5-0
Long jump
6th, Jameson Henigan, 16-11
7th, Costas Miller, 16-10.5
29th, Adrian Bazzel, 14-0.75
Triple jump
3rd, Devin Parady, 38-2
11th, Jameson Henigan, 34-0.5
Shot put
12th, Reece Thompson, 30-9
25th, David Skelton, 28-7.75

Discus
9th, David Skelton, 84-1
23rd, Reece Thompson, 75-4