This year’s track and field state championships will be remembered for two things: Human errors and Mother Nature.
When the Division I and II meets began Wednesday at Mesa Community College, there was a lot of discussion of who wasn’t at the meet. Several schools, including title favorites in Division II and III, did not enter some or all of their athletes on time so those athletes did not get into the meet. The Arizona Interscholastic Association uses an online entry process where each team is responsible for entering its athletes. An entry deadline of 8 a.m. on Sunday (May 6) was in place, but teams could enter athletes throughout the season.
Included in those schools affected were Florence (defending boys champion in Division III) and Glendale Independence, a Division II team that finished third a year ago in the girls meet. None of the Independence athletes were entered, while Florence had several athletes entered earlier in the year, but the 4x100 and 4x400 relays did not get entered.
While that controversy was crazy enough, Mother Nature shook up the meet. High winds, rain and lightning arrived at MCC late in the afternoon, forcing officials to first delay the meet and then later postpone it to Saturday, though not entirely.
When the Division III and IV meets begin Friday, there will be a sprinking of Division I and II athletes. The Division I and II boys will run their 800- and 1,600-meter finals tonight, while the Division I and II girls will run the 3,200-meter finals.
The biggest ripple from Wednesday’s cancellation will come on Saturday. The Division III and IV athletes will run their preliminaries today, as scheduled. However, in Division I and II they will run timed finals on Saturday. That means there will be no preliminary rounds for Division I and II in the 200, 400 and 300-meter hurdles, as well as the 4x100 and 4x400 relays. The Division II girls completed their preliminary heats in the 100 on Wednesday, which means that the girls in Division I and the Division I and II boys will run timed finals in the 100 on Saturday.
Friday’s schedule starts at 1 p.m., while Saturday’s meet begins at 10 a.m. with field events. Running events begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
A couple events did get completed before the weather rolled in.
In the Division I boys shot put, Chandler put itself in good position to win the team title by sweeping the top three spots on the podium. Senior Shawn Collins threw a personal-best 58-feet, 10 1/4 inches to claim the state title. He was followed close behind by teammates Dominic Nappe (58-5 3/5) and Travis Colby (57-6 3/4), as the Wolves amassed 24 points.
In the girls 4x800 relay finals, Highland earned a Division I state championship with a time of 9:15.38, the second-best time in state history. The team of Tory Haberman, Imani Heath, Lauren Ellsworth and Kristi Rush beat Xavier’s squad by eight seconds. Mountain View was third and Desert Vista fourth. The Division II race was won by Flagstaff in 9:41.58. Tempe was fourth and Notre Dame Prep fifth.
In the Division II girls pole vault, Marcos de Niza’s Savannah Whitehead cleared 11-0 and finished second behind Liberty’s Jenny Rolph (11-3).
In the Division II girls high jump, Campo Verde freshman Kelly Costello earned a bronze medal when she cleared 5-2. Emily Gerard of Catalina Foothills won the event at 5-6 and Danielle Spargur of Sunrise Mountain was second at 5-5.