By Raymundo Frasquillo
MORENCI – They did exactly as they were told. They put forth their best effort, by beating the clock or surpassing the tape measure, during the 2017 Morenci Track and Field Invitational in Lawson Stadium on a warm April afternoon. In the end, the top three schools were Safford, Thatcher and Pima, respectively, for both the boys and girls events.
Student-athletes representing 10 schools competed as 237 boys and 214 girls recorded times and distances. The percentages were 40 (99 – 237) for boys and 36 (77 – 214) for girls setting personal records in their respective 14 events, not including the three relay teams. Four boys and 11 girls also set season marks, but not all of them placed in the top eight to earn team points.
“They are peaking at the right time,” Morenci head coach Kenneth Lester said. “This is the time of the season where you want to see that happening.”
Personal records were set by 14 of 40 boys and 11 of 41 girls from Safford, with nine and 11 in the top eight, respectively; 16 of 44 boys and 15 of 42 girls from Thatcher, with nine and eight in the top eight, respectively; 10 of 24 boys and three of 15 girls from Pima, with six and three in the top eight, respectively; eight of 34 boys and 15 of 35 girls from Benson, with one and eight in the top eight, respectively; 19 of 39 boys and 10 of 26 girls from Morenci, with seven and five in the top eight, respectively; 13 of 22 boys and seven of 25 girls from Willcox, with three and four in the top eight, respectively; six of 16 boys and four of 14 girls from San Carlos, with two and one in the top eight, respectively; one of four boys and nine of 13 girls from Saint David, with one and two in the top eight; five of five boys and one of one girl from Duncan, with two and zero in the top eight, respectively; and seven of nine boys and two of two girls from Elfrida Valley Union, with none in the top eight.
Morenci got personal bests from 19 of 39 individual entrants, including senior Gabriel Landstrum in the 100 (12.14 beating 12.61 of prior week); senior Ruben Little in the 200 (25.86), sophomore Jonathan Merino in the 400 (56.86 beating 57.63 of prior week) and triple jump (35-09 surpassing 34-7 of prior week), sophomore Jayson Herrera in the 400 (58.54 beating 59.23 of prior week), freshman Dante Deanda in the 800 (2:24.56) and 1600 (5:21.41 beating 5:26.29 of prior month), sophomore Gabriel Baca in the 800 (2:25.42), sophomore Alex Garcia in the 800 (2:28.49 beating 2:33.12 of prior week), senior Anthony Chanez in the 1600 (5:21.39 beating 5:26.25 of prior week) and 3200 (11:26.57 beating 11:39.77 of prior month), freshman Jordan Mares in the 1600 (5:28.58 beating 5:30.25 of prior week) and 3200 (12:15.80 beating 12:20.54 of prior month), freshman A.J. Hudman in the 300 hurdles (49.68 beating 49.92 of prior month) senior Daniel Alba in the long jump (20-02.5 surpassing 19-02 of prior week), senior Andrew Esparza in the shot put (39-05 surpassing 37-05 of prior week), freshman Zach Esparza in the shot put (30-08 surpassing 29-03 of prior week), freshman Victor Laborin in the discus (90-11 surpassing 86-01 of prior week), and senior William Bagley in the discus (74-01 surpassing 66-02 of two weeks prior).
Season bests were turned in the 200 by both junior Skylar Howard (23.52) and senior Matthew Siqueiros (27.05).
The 3200 relay was second (9:10.48), the 1600 relay was third (3:50.88), and the 400 relay tied for third (47.38) with Willcox. Members of the 3200 relay were Herrera, freshman Calvin Dunning, Howard and Little; the 1600 relay were Landstrum, Howard, Herrera and Little; and the 400 relay were Landstrum, Little, Alba and Howard.
Morenci placed fifth with 59.5 points, 40 for individual events and 19.5 for relay teams. Individually, Howard paced Morenci with 12.875 points for second in the 200 plus legs on each of the relay teams, Alba (9.375) for second in the long jump and a leg on the 400 relay, junior Isiah Sanchez (7) for fifth in the shot put (39-09) and sixth in the discus (113-05), Chanez (5) for seventh in the 1600 and sixth in the 3200, Little (4.875) for legs on each of the relay teams, Merino (4) for sixth in the 400, Herrera (3.5) for legs on the 1600 and 3200 relays, Andrew Esparza (3) for sixth in the shot put, senior Jose Sauls (3) for eighth in the 300 hurdles and seventh in the triple jump (36-03), Landstrum (2.875) for legs on the 400 and 1600 relays, Deanda (2) eighth in both 1600 and 3200 (11:59.23), and Dunning (2) for a leg of the 3200 relay.
Duncan had personal best efforts by junior Kade Stacy in the 100 (11.94) and 200 (24.52), freshman Trey Robinette in the 100 (13.23) and 400 (1:04.33) and freshman Martin Gonzales in the 100 (13.32).
Stacy accounted for all the 4.5 team points with a fifth place tie in the 100 and eighth in the 200.
Safford totaled 170 points in 14 individual events plus 19 in the three relays to finish first with 189 points. The Bulldogs netted eight firsts, two seconds, four thirds, five fourths, four fifths, one sixth, two sevenths and two eighths.
Runner-up Thatcher had 111 plus 18 for 129 points, with two firsts, two seconds, five thirds, five fourths, one fifth, two sixths, three sevenths, an eighth and a tie for seventh.
Pima placed third with 95 points, Benson fourth (91), Morenci fifth (59.5), Willcox sixth (22), San Carlos and Saint David tied for seventh with 21 points apiece, Duncan was ninth (4.5) and Valley Union 10th (2).
Meet winner Safford got first place efforts from senior Riley DeSpain in the 100 (11.43), 200 (23.06), and 400, with a personal best of 51.85; senior Zach Sias in the 1600 (4:45.07); freshman Jacob Urrea in the 3200, with a personal best 10:43.26; senior Darius Martindell in the 300 hurdles, with a personal best 40.07; junior Stratton Baldwin in the high jump (6-00); sophomore Sergio Lira in the shot put (43-05.5); and the 1600 relay team (3:32.19) of Despain, Martindell, sophomore Hunter Mullins and senior Michael Urrea.
Thatcher had gold medal finishes by sophomore Luis Lopez-Aguilar in the 110 hurdles, with a personal best 15.53, junior McKay Palmer in the triple jump with a personal best 43-02, and the 3200 relay team (8.55.76) of junior Garret Hunt, sophomores Jayden Stailey and Hunter Stailey, and senior Conner Palmer.
Pima was first in the 800 with a personal best of 2:06.46 by senior Justin Kartchner and the 400 relay team (45.82) of juniors Bradyn Brown, Jarom Lopez, and Aaron Judd plus Kartchner.
Benson had senior Liam Barrett in the pole vault (13-0) and long jump (20-06.5), plus senior Daniel Arthur in the discus (134-01) finish first.
Ten of 26 Wildcats turned in personal best efforts, including freshman Desiree Babb in the 100 (13.87 beating 16.85 of prior month) and 300 hurdles (51.76 beating 51.84 of prior month), freshman Kaleena Carlin in the 200 (32.45 beating 33.22 of prior week), freshman Laney Redford in the 200 (36.05 beating 36.07 of prior week), junior Alex Chee in the 800 (3:00.21 beating 3:02.91 of prior month), senior Aaliyah Manuz in the 100 hurdles (17.74 beating 17.93 of prior week), junior Janeene Lang in the long jump (13-11 surpassing 13-10 of prior week) and discus (79-10 surpassing 75.05 of prior month), senior Marissa Razo in the triple jump (27-02) and sophomore Nesa Martinez in the shot put (26-01 surpassing 23-03 of two weeks prior).
Manuz also posted a season best in the 300 hurdles (49.17 beating 50.38 of prior week).
The Wildcats placed fifth with 63.5 points, 57.5 for individual events and six for the third place 1600 relay team. Morenci ended with a pair of seconds, three thirds, three fourths, a tie for fourth, a fifth, a sixth, a seventh and an eighth.
Individually, junior Paige Morales contributed 14.5 for second in the 1600 (5:45.57) and fourth in the 3200 (13:08.34), and a leg on the 1600 relay team; Manuz 13,5 for second in the 300 hurdles, fifth in the 100 hurdles, and a leg on the 1600 relay team; Babb 12.5 for third in the 100 hurdles (16.97), fourth in the 300 hurdles, , and a leg on the 1600 relay team; sophomore Emily Lundeen 4.5 for a tie for fourth in the pole vault (6-06); Lang nine for third in the long jump and sixth in the discus; freshman Miriam Frisch one for eighth in the pole vault (6-06); and freshman Rayvn Tison 1.5 for a leg on the 1600 relay team.
Junior Hailee Alexander posted a personal best in the 400 (1.19.54) to finish below the top eight and did not score team points.
Safford totaled 151.5 points in 14 individual events plus 21 in the three relays to finish first with 172.5 points. The Bulldogs netted four firsts, six seconds, three thirds, five fourths, four fifths, a tie for fifth, four sixths, three sevenths and four eighths.
Second-place Thatcher netted 144.5 points, with 134.5 for individual events plus 25 for the three relay events. The Eagles collected five firsts, three seconds, five thirds, four fourths, one fifth, two sixths, two sevenths, six eighths and a tie for eighth.
Pima ended third with 98 points, Benson fourth (97), Morenci fifth, Willcox sixth (44.5), Saint David seventh (17), and San Carlos eighth (10). Duncan and Valley Union did not score.
Individually, the Bulldogs placing first were senior Kaitlyn McDougal in the 1600 with a season best 5:39.49, sophomore Hannah Dannenbrink in the 3200 with a personal best 12:37.78, senior Sarah Richardson in the pole vault (8-00), and senior Devinn Villalba in the shot put (33-01).
For Thatcher, sophomore Becka Nicholas took the 300 hurdles with a personal best 47.42 and the triple jump (32.00), and sophomore Kloee Mattice the high jump (4-10).
Pima junior Jessica Sherwood captured the 100 with a personal best 13.00, the 400 with a personal best 1:00.70, and the 100 hurdles (16.18); Benson sophomore Chloe Byfield the 200 with a personal best 27.89 and junior Ivy Martinez the long jump with a personal best 15-08; Willcox junior Wren Klump the 800 with a personal best 2:28.00; and Saint David senior Kiauna Richardson the discus with a personal best 104-08.
Thatcher broke the tape in two relays, the 1600 (4:21.30) and 3200 (19:59.67), with freshman Taya Baldwin, freshman Jerzie Hatch, Nicholas, and senior Sarah Green in the 1600 relay plus junior Lily Richardson, freshman Hailey Udall, freshman Elliana Widsor and Green in the 3200 relay.
Pima had the fastest clocking in the 400 relay (52.54) with senior Audrey Goodman, senior Lyrica Tavesi, sophomore Raely Brown and Sherwood.