It’s not that Eric Richardson is greedy. He just understands how difficult it is to get to the top.
The Chandler High girls track coach is not alone in appreciating the effort it takes to win a state championship.
Dan Kuiper at Chandler Valley Christian and Shaun Hardt at Queen Creek also have their teams at the pinnacle of their respective divisions.
They all waited to get to the top and they are in no hurry to relinquish their lofty positions.
“Getting the first one is definitely the most difficult,” Richardson said. “After that, the kids start buying into what you are trying to do. When they start to believe then you can get some things accomplished.”
After falling short in other promising seasons, Chandler finally broke through in 2006, winning the 5A Division I state title. The Wolves repeated last season, and with plenty of talent returning, they should be considered the team to beat again.
“They are ready to get things started,” said Richardson, who returns athletes who scored 116 of the team’s 118 points at last season’s state meet. “They have been training hard and we push them. They want to compete against someone else and have a day away from practice.”
Queen Creek won consecutive titles in 3A before moving to 4A-II last season and winning it all again.
The Bulldogs didn’t just win last year’s title, they barely broke a sweat. Their 135.5 points were 80 better than runner-up Flagstaff Sinagua.
And Valley Christian is chasing its 13th consecutive state title in 2A. Another championship would tie the national record for team success.
“The kids know the type of success we have had,” Kuiper said. “Not many of our athletes have participated in track before. We try to get as many out for the team as we can. We tell everyone to bring a friend. Hopefully, one of them will have some talent.”
Kuiper, who also coaches the Trojans boys team, has won 19 titles at the school, including 15 of the last 16 girls championships.
“Having the numbers is a big key,” said Kuiper, who hopes to have about 100 out for the two teams this season. “Even though we have about 400 at our school, we get great numbers. The kids know it takes a lot of work to win and they aren’t afraid to put the work in.”
Contact John Mahnke:
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