Tag Archives: track

high schools

VanHofwegen takes Division IV boys 400 meters

by Jason Stone

Sometimes second place is good enough.
The Division IV boys track and field state championship meet at Mesa Community College came down to the final event Saturday night.
Chandler Valley Christian’s 4×400 meter relay team finished second, giving it enough points to win the team championship over Phoenix Arizona Lutheran and St. Johns.
But while the team result was in doubt late Saturday, Tucson St. Augustine senior Nico Montanez was clearly the individual star.
Montanez pulled off a championship trifecta by winning the 800- and 1,600-meters Saturday to go along with the 3,200-meter metal he earned Friday.
“I feel fulfilled,” said Montanez, the reigning Division IV cross country champion, who will run at Paradise Valley Community College in the fall. “Just to win three is a blessing.”
That great feeling was spread around as numerous school earned individual state titles.
Valley Christian held the team lead most of Saturday despite having no individual champions on the final day. In fact the team’s only first-place finish over the three days of competition came Friday in the team 4×800-meter relay.
Likewise, Arizona Lutheran had no champions Saturday — or the entire three days for that matter.
But while the depth of Arizona Lutheran and Valley Christian was evident in their team scores, a host of individuals made noise on their own.
Phoenix Christian senior sprinter Preston VanHofwegen, who is going to Azusa Pacific to play football in the fall, won the 400-meters with a personal best time of 49.45 seconds.
“I’ve been training so hard for this,” VanHofwegen said. “It’s a great feeling.”
VanHofwegen’s win was a repeat performance from his state win in the event his sophomore year. To do it this time, he upset Phoenix Northwest Christian’s Hunter McShanag, who came into the race seeded first but finished a surprising forth.
San Manuel’s Wayne Newman was a double winner in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles races. The junior finished in the top five in both last year and said he was focused on winning them this time.
“I saw all the guys who finished ahead of me last year were seniors,” Newman said. “So I knew I had a chance.”
St. Johns junior became a double winner when he claimed the triple jump title, a day after winning the long jump.
Simon Whitfield of Phoenix Veritas Prep claimed the 100-meter championship with a time of 11.28 seconds. He upset top-seeded Bryant James of Tombstone in the finals despite running 14-hundredths of a second slower in the finals than in his heat.
James came back later to win the 200 meters.
Other champions early Saturday included Benson’s Jacob Manuel (pole vault), Mogollon’s Lane Bentley (high jump) and Scottsdale Prep’s Aiden Wright (discus).
Glendale Joy Christian won the 4×100-meter relay.

Published at azcentral.com • May. 12, 2012

high schools

Ironwood frosh leads list of state track winners

by Jason Stone

Some runners call track’s 800 meters the hardest race to complete. It is not a sprint, nor is it a distance run, making it tricky for some.
That does not apply to Ironwood freshman Leah Ybarra.
In only a handful of races, Ybarra went from randomly trying the event to state champion.
Ybarra won the 800-meter dash at the 5A state track and field championship at Arizona State University last week after picking up the event midway through the season “to help the team score some points.”
Normally a 100-meter sprinter, Ybarra has never lost an 800 race.
“I’m still really surprised,” the 15-year-old Ybarra said.
Ybarra held off city-foe Shelley Splittberger of Deer Valley in the 800, winning with a time of two minutes, 14.56 seconds, just .15 of a second ahead of Splittberger.
Ybarra wasn’t the only local state champion in the 800.
Mountain Ridge’s Reese Byerrum won his second consecutive boys 800 title by turning in a time of 1:52.09. He outpaced Deer Valley’s Chris Tabanico, who finished third at 1:56.00.
Ybarra and Byerrum helped their teams finish the highest among local schools.4c50a16f6c0e7.image
Ironwood’s girls finished with 36 points to take fifth as a team, behind South Mountain, Desert Vista, Flowing Wells and (Mesa) Mountain View.
Mountain Ridge’s boys finished in a tie for 12th.
Ironwood and Deer Valley’s boys teams nearly collected some state champions.
Ironwood’s Paul Gill took second in the high jump and actually tied the mark for highest jump at 6 feet, 10 inches. Teammate Skylar Hagg finished third in the long jump with a leap of 21-10.
In addition to Tabanico’s third-place finish in the 800, Deer Valley received a third place from Jason Thier in the discus.
Among local 5A girls, Ironwood was bolstered by points in six events beside Ybarra’s win.
The 4×100 relay team took third, while the 4×400 team finished fourth. Sarah Reeves picked up points in the triple jump (fifth) and long jump (sixth), while Kelsey Klein was sixth in the high jump and Valerie Scott took sixth in the 100 hurdles.
The 4A races at Mesa Community College crowned Greg Lacey a two-time champion.
The junior at Glendale High School, defended his state championship in the long jump and added the triple jump title to his resume.
Lacey leaped 22-6½ in the long jump and 44-8 in the triple jump to help Glendale finish 11th as a team, the highest of all local 4A boys teams.
Lacey’s brother, Craig, also picked up points with a fourth-place finish in the shot put.
Cactus and Apollo picked up points without winning any events.
The Cobras got a sixth-place finish from Josh Butler in the 800, while their 4×800 relay team took sixth.
Apollo’s Prince Amukamara (fourth in the 100) and Monti Washington (eighth in the high jump) scored the Hawks’ points.
In the 4A girls race, Cactus’ Jessica McDonald followed up a triple championship in last week’s Wells Fargo Region meet with a state title in the 400 to help the Cobras take second as a team.
McDonald turned in a time of 55.26 seconds in the 400 to win by half a second over Lake Havasu’s Meaghan Ryan.
McDonald also took third in the 100 and 200.
The Cobras were also helped by a second-place showing from Katherine Allen in the high jump. Allen leaped 5-4 to lose to Agua Fria’s Linda Ubah by two inches.
The Cobras’ 4×400 relay team also took second, while Cactus’ 4×100 relay squad ended up seventh.
Sophia Guerrero was fourth in the shot put to round out Cactus’ scoring.
Apollo, Glendale and Independence each had one state girls placer.
Precious Amukamara was sixth in the 200, while Dominque Mayberry was third in the 300 hurdles for Independence and Fantina Santiago was eighth in the discus for Glendale.

Published at glendalestar.com • May 22, 2005

high schools

Glendale jumper to defend state title

by Jason Stone

Greg Lacey knew by fourth grade that he was faster than most of his classmates.
But even he didn’t know then that he could jump farther than them as well.
“I liked running, but I hated jumping,” Lacey said, recalling his early years in track. “I just wanted something to do.”
It turns out the events the Glendale High School junior hated the most in elementary school are now his meal ticket to state stardom.
Lacey enters this week’s 4A state meet at Mesa Community College as the defending state champion in the long jump. He will try to defend that title and also win the triple jump, which he is favored to do.
Not bad for a guy who came out of nowhere to win the long jump state title last year.
“I think (opponents) still don’t even know that I won (state),” Lacey said. “Everybody thinks the other guy won.”
The win was not controversial — only surprising.
Moon Valley’s Julius Strayhand, who had a week earlier beat Lacey at the Skyline Region meet, finished his final round with a jump of 21 feet, 8¾ inches. That was better than any of Lacey’s previous bests.
But with little fanfare on his final jump, Lacey pulled off the jump of his life, stretching out for 22 feet, 2¾ inches, a half-foot longer than Strayhand.
“I thought I had scratched,” Lacey said. “I couldn’t believe it.”
Lacey’s state championship medal might have surprised track fans, but Lacey is used to sneaking up on people.
As a member of the Cardinals’ football team, Lacey rushed for nearly 1,000 yards last fall, yet was not named to the All-Skyline Region team.
“I think that bothered him,” said Jason Wilke, Glendale’s football and track coach. “But by being a darkhorse, his work ethic has stepped up.”
Lacey won the Skyline Region meet in the long jump and triple jump last week and enters state ranked No. 1 in both events.
“It’s pretty good to be a clear favorite as only a junior,” Wilke said. “But (this) week is what matters. He can’t stand losing. That’s one thing I know about him.”

Published at glendalestar.com • May 11, 2005

high schools

Prep teams battle for state positioning

by Jason Stone

Bats will ping and guns will sound as local baseball, softball and track teams get into playoff form this week.
As of Tuesday morning, a handful of local baseball and softball teams were still alive for their respective region championships, prior to next week’s state competition.
Cactus softball, looking for its third-straight 4A championship before conferences are split next year, will host the championship of the Wells Fargo Region Friday.
Deer Valley, meanwhile, ended as the top softball team in the 5A Northwest Region and earned the No. 1 seed at the postseason tournament. Mountain Ridge finished second.
In baseball, Mountain Ridge has the No. 1 seed for this week’s 5A Northwest Region championship series against Goldwater, the team that upset the Mountain Lions in regionals last year.
Ironwood, meanwhile, entered the 5A Desert West Region tournament as the No. 3 seed.
Track and field championships for the Northwest, Desert West, Desert Sky, Skyline and Wells Fargo regions will also be held this week as teams get one last chance at qualifying for next week’s state meets.

Published at glendalestar.com • May 4, 2005

high schools

Apollo track star fights off distractions to excel

by Jason Stone

Brittany Wray is behind in her training schedule.
But what else is new?
Nothing in Wray’s life seems to go as planned, yet the Apollo High School senior seems to find a way to persevere through any situation.
At only 18, Wray has already faced a lifetime of adversity through illnesses and injury, family difficulties and a heavy workload outside of the classroom.
Despite it all, the Hawks’ state champion hopeful could end her career as the most decorated track athlete to ever wear the Apollo uniform.
“I’ve been kind of feeling (older) for years,” Wray said. “I’ve always 4c50a14926d3a.imagemade my own money and bought the things I needed.”
Wray is hoping hard work will buy her a track championship this year.
Having never ran track before high school, Wray joined the team “to have something to do,” and ended up opening eyes across the state by finishing fourth in Arizona in the 300-meter hurdles her freshman year.
Season-long nagging injuries and a lengthy illness her sophomore year slowed her down, but she still managed a sixth-place showing at state.
Last year as a junior, Wray won every race she ran until the state finals, when she narrowly took second.
But she played soccer this year for the first time and ended up getting ankle and shin injuries, which have slowed her down in the early part of training.
It wasn’t until last Friday that she finally got up to speed at practice, and she knows she has some catching up to do if she wants to win state in her final try.
But rallying from behind is nothing new to Wray.
She and her father did not have a permanent home until this year, and her mother is busy caring for Wray’s 9-year-old sister, who suffers from Down syndrome.
Plus, her mother’s boyfriend was diagnosed with lung cancer and the two staged a hospital wedding two weeks ago, a week before his death.
In addition to her classwork, Wray works 15 hours a week at Boston Market to support herself and helps run Apollo’s “Best Buddies” program, which pairs students with disabled children.
Wray has spent most of her life motivating herself, even in track where her female teammates can’t keep up with her in the hurdles.
“I have to run with the boys,” Wray said with a smile. “It’s made me stronger, I think.”
Ironically, Wray said she doesn’t have a passion for track or any sport. Yet, she participated in track, basketball, soccer and swimming while at Apollo.
“I think it’s because I just hate losing,” Wray said. “I’m just competitive.”
Wray said she plans to continue competing in college, most likely at a local community college first. She ultimately wants to study interior design or elementary education.
“I watch all those home shows on TV,” said Wray, who is in the Advanced Placement Art class. “I love ‘Trading Spaces.'”
Her coaches are hoping Wray, who also runs a leg on the Hawks’ 4×400 relay team, trades places into first this year at state.
“She has overcome a lot,” Apollo coach Dave Devlin said. “She already has four medals at state and if she can get two more, then it will be hard to pass her up.”

Published at glendalestar.com • March 28, 2005