Div. II Track and Field state championships
When: Prelims and finals Wednesday (1:30 p.m.); Finals on Saturday (1 p.m.)
Where: Mesa Community College, 1833 W. Southern Ave., Mesa
Favorites: There are two returning state championship teams in this field, with Queen Creek (the 4A-I champion) and Notre Dame (the 4A-II champion), but unless something miraculous happens for both squads, they’ll be out of the running this season. With sprinting and hurdling star Jaide Stepter, Tucson Canyon del Oro enters the meet with the most prolific scorer and the Dorados have plenty of other pieces to fill up the score sheet. Stepter is the No. 2 seed in the 100 hurdles, but will be the favorite to win her second straight state title (she was the champ in 4A-I last year). She’s also posted the best time in the state this season in the 300 hurdles and is the top seed in Div. II in the 200. Stepter also anchors the top-seeded 4X400 relay team. The Dorados also can score points in the field events with Rachel Hubbard, who is the top seed in the shot put and No. 2 in the discus.
The contenders: Glendale Apollo and Glendale Independence should vye for the runner-up trophy, with Apollo the favorite to finish second, led by Promise Amukamara.
East Valley athletes to watch: Arcadia’s Tess Berghoff is the top-seeded entrant in the 800, with her time of 2:14.83. Berghoff is also the third seed in the 400 (58.53) and fifth in the 1,600. ... Notre Dame’s Marcela Cartledge enters with the best time in the 1,600 (5:07.08) and the second-best time in the 800 (2:16.42). She also runs on the Saints’ 4x800 relay team that is seeded third. ... Marcos de Niza, led by senior Kylee Kieser, is the top seed in the 4x800 and Kieser will be very busy. She’s the No. 2 seed in the 3,200 (11:13.11), No. 4 in the 1,600 (5:12.37) and No. 5 in the 800. The Padres’ Savannah White is ranked second in Div. II in the pole vault.
Favorites: In what could turn out to be a down-to-the-wire meet, Queen Creek enters as the favorite. The Bulldogs, champions in 4A-I last year, will get the majority of their points from four athletes, Todd Kirchner, Vernon Jamison, Colton Lock and Greg Peterson. Lock comes into the meet with the best time in the 300 hurdles (38.47), and the fifth-best time in the 110 high hurdles. Jamison is the No. 2 seed in the 110 hurdles and fourth in the 300 hurdles. Kirchner, meanwhile, comes in ranked second in the 200 (22.08) and fourth in the 400. All three run on the Bulldogs’ 4x400 relay team that is seeded second. Peterson, meanwhile, opens up as the favorite to win the pole vault with his season-best mark of 15-0.
The contenders: Queen Creek beat Tucson Canyon del Oro by just one point a year ago, and this year could be much of the same. The Dorados have distance star Daniel Wong leading the way and are a threat to unseat the Bulldogs.
East Valley athletes to watch: Arcadia’s Dylan Hambright and Notre Dame’s Brian Canavan are seeded 1 and 2 in the 400, respectively. Hambright was the 4A-II champion last year and has the best time in all of Arizona this year, 48.00. Canavan, meanwhile, is the third-seeded performer in the 200 at 22.15. ... Notre Dame’s Brandon Senior enters the meet ranked second in the 300 hurldes (38.70) and sixth in the 200. Another Saint, Mike Foley, holds the No. 2 spot in the discus and the No. 4 spot in the shot put. ... Williams Field senior Alex Howard has posted the top time in his division in the 100, clocking a 10.94. He’s also on the Blackhawks’ 4x100 relay team that is seeded second. Teammate Trevor Gibbons is the third seed in the discus and freshman Nathan Rodriguez is the sixth seed in the 1,600. ... Marcos De Niza’s Martwon Weaver is seeded third in the 100 at 11.06, and Saguaro’s Jake Wynn second in the 3,200 at 9:37.56.