Queen Creek has done more than win four consecutive girls state track titles and five in six years. The Bulldogs have dominated four consecutive state meets - regardless of which class they were competing in.
In the past two seasons, Queen Creek has won the 4A-II title by an average of 61 points. Last season, the Bulldogs steamrolled their way to 134.5 points while runner-up Flagstaff Sinagua totaled just 55.
The East Sky Region powerhouse also won a pair of 3A titles by an average of 30 points in 2004 and 2005.
"It is always our team goal to win a state championship, that is what we work for all year long," said coach Shaun Hardt, whose team opens defense of its title today at Mesa Community College, with the meet concluding Saturday.
The Bulldogs' assignment may be a bit tougher this year. This will probably be the most competitive state meet in the past five seasons.
Hardt expects Flagstaff and Flagstaff Coconino to bring talented teams to the Valley. He also believes Phoenix Greenway, Scottsdale Notre Dame and Tucson Catalina are all running well.
"In order to win, I think we need to score well in every single event that we have qualified in," Hardt said. "The teams around the state look very tough so every point is going to count."
Having experienced so much success, the athletes understand what is at stake.
"We talk about keeping the streak alive," said junior Karina Gneck, who will compete in the 400 and the relays. "We don't see a lot of the other teams during the season. You never know what they are going to bring."
The Bulldogs may not know much about their competition, but all their competition has to do is check out the state rankings to see what Queen Creek will bring to the meet. The Bulldogs boast talented relay teams, a bevy of middle-distance runners and a deep roster that can and should score points in virtually every event.
The 3,200 relay quartet recorded a time of 9 minutes, 47.53 seconds at a meet at Chandler Basha earlier this season, which ranks fifth in the state regardless of school size. Queen Creek's 1,600 relay team ranks eighth in the state and both of those squads won state titles last season.
Among individual performances, sophomore Ashley Workman ranks ninth in the 800 (2:19.33) and junior Mariah Bowers is 12th (2:19.59). They rank second and third among 4A schools.
Savanah Buck's triple jump distance of 35 feet, 1 inch ranks 12th in the state, tops among 4A schools.
"As a team we have had a few setbacks this season with injuries and such," Hardt said. "That always is a little unsettling as we head to the state championships."
The girls probably calmed Hardt's nerves a little at last week's region meet. The Bulldogs won eight of the 17 events en route to the title while setting a pair of meet records.
"I feel more confident going into this year's meet," said Workman, who placed third in the 800 and sixth in the 1,600 at last year's state meet. "Our coaches do a great job of giving us confidence. We always talk about how our team is all behind us."
Which is generally where the competition is, too.