Division I 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: Something would have to go seriously wrong for Chandler to not win its sixth straight title in Arizona’s largest classification. If the Wolves just match their seeded performances, they’d score 197 points, a record by a team in the largest classification. Chandler has the top-seeded performers in 10 of 17 events and four No. 2 seeds. Chandler is led by senior Hannah Carson, who is the defending state champion in the shot put and discus, and is the No. 2 seed in the high jump. Junior Jasmine Todd has been slowed by injuries, but she’ll be the favorite to win the long jump and triple jump for the second-straight year and if she is well enough to compete in the 100, she’ll be the favorite there. If Todd can’t do the sprints, freshman Ky Westbrook would move into the role of favorite in both the 100 and 200, along with fellow freshman Tope Williams. The Wolves are also deep in the hurdle events, with senior Alexis Clay and sophomores Sherelle Jordan and Makaila Flannigan, and the 200 and 400 with sophomore Alexis Roberts. Chandler is also the top-seeded team both the 4x100 and 4x400 relay events. The Wolves view the state meet as just a stepping stone to a greater goal of repeating as the Nike Track National Champion.
The contenders: Yes, Chandler will be the story of the meet, but the race for runner-up with be very intriguing as well. Xavier brings in the best distance corps in the state, as the Gators have the top four seeds in the 3,200, with Sarah Fakler, Daylee Burr, Breanna Perrone and Shelby Brown holding down those spots. Fakler and Katie Penney are the top two seeds in the 1,600 and Penney is the top seed in the 800. Hamilton counters with a squad led by standout freshman Ashlee Moore, who is seeded in the top two in three events (long jump, high jump and 100 hurdles), and Destiny Lundy (No. 2 in the 400) and Victoria McArthur (No. 2 in the 300 hurdles). Xavier enters with a slight edge, but if some other runners can jump up and break up those Gator distance runners, Hamilton could jump into the runner-up spot. The race for No. 2 could come down to the final event of the meet, the girls 4x400 relay, with Hamilton coming in as the No. 3 seed and Xavier at No. 5.
East Valley athletes to watch: Mountain View’s Lindsay Pew has been the top girls vaulter in the state most of the season and will be looking to improve on her vault of 12.4 1/4. Another Toro, Chloe Richardson, is the No. 2 seed in the triple jump.
Corona del Sol’s Dana McKenzie has cleared 5-feet-6 in the high jump this season and could jump up to surprise the top two seeds Moore and Carson if they aren’t at their best. ... Desert Vista’s Yasmine Yacut is the defending champion in the 800 and is seeded No. 2, just .11 seconds behind Xavier’s Penney. ... Highland’s Kristi Rush had a huge state meet as a freshman and could challenge Xavier’s dominance in the distance events. Rush was second in the 3,200 and third in the 1,600 a year ago.
Favorite: Chandler has all the pieces in place to repeat as champions in the state’s largest classification, but the Wolves do have some work to do to fend off Brophy, Desert Vista and Mountain View. Chandler will need to hold its own in the hurdle events. Paul Perkins and Jamal Vargas are the top two seeds in the 300 hurldes, while Devin Centers and Perkins are the No. 2 and No. 4 seeds, respectively, in the 110 high hurdles. Vargas also enters the meet with the No. 2 triple jump mark and the No. 4 long jump mark in Division I. Chandler will also need to make some noise in the sprint relays, as the Wolves enter seeded third in both the 4x100 and 4x400.
The contenders: Much of Brophy’s success will rest on the shoulders of sophomore Devon Allen, who is seeded second in the 400 and fourth in both the 100 and 200 and fifth in the 110 high hurdles. The Broncos also have a strong distance duo in Will Firth and Tommy Williams, who have the speed to sweep both the 1,600 and 3,200. Desert Vista is always a team to look out for, as the Thunder can score points in many different ways. High jumper Edmund Baker has the best jump all season (6-feet-10), and Riley Pendergast is the No. 2 seeded competitor in the discus. The pole vault also continues to be a strength, led by No. 2 seed Aidan Foster, and Michael Ingrassia is the defending state champion in the 300 hurdles.
East Valley athletes to watch: Hamilton’s Just N’ Thymes comes in with the No. 2-ranked mark in the 200 meters and the long jump. Mountain View’s Carter Brown hopes to compete, dispite suffering a pulled hamstring late in the season. If he is able to run full speed, he’ll be in the mix in the 100 and 200, as well as on the Toros’ 4X100 relay. ... Basha’s Garrett Starkey took over the top spot on the season charts in the pole vault in the final week of the regular season, clearing 16-1 1/4 at the Southeast Valley championships. ... Westwood’s Cameron Taylor has been plagued by injuries all season, but he’ll be ready to take a crack at the state record of 13.77 in the 110 high hurdles. Taylor’s best this season is 13.98.