Chandler HS girls’ track team wins title at Nike Nationals

The Wolves finally broke out of the pack and claimed the national track & field title for Chandler High School.

All season long, the Chandler girls’ team was stuck in second place in the chase for a ”mythical’ national championship, behind the Long Beach Poly girls. The standing was based on computer statistics, since there has been no national stage for high school competition.

But Nike changed all that and gave the state’s 5A-I state champions from Gilbert a chance to prove who really belongs at the top.

Hannah Carson won two events at Friday’s inaugural Nike Track Nationals in Eugene, Ore. – the only girl competitor to do so – to help propel Chandler past a field of 12 of the best girls’ teams in the country to win the national championship.  A dozen boys’ teams also competed, for a 24-team field.

Carson swept the shot put and discus events, throwing the shot 42’4″ and the discus 132’4″ to lead the Wolves to a 7,721.65 point total to edge second-place Maplewood Columbia (N.J.) by just 200 points.

Chandler sent seven athletes and Carson got lots of help from her teammates, as Haley Bowser won the pole vault, Jasmine Todd won the long jump, and Cadija Harris finished first in the high jump.

Between March 1 and June 13, over 1,000 track & field teams competed in a virtual competition by inputting to a web site their times and records set during the season at USATF meets.  From those statistics, the top 24 teams were invited to be the first competitors in Nike’s newest marketing event and given a chance to go head-to-head with other teams from around the country.

Each participant was allowed to participate in a maximum of two events and a decathlon-style scoring system was used.

The teams were flown at Nike’s expense to Eugene, where they competed in front of a crowd of some 4,000 spectators, were lavished with Nike gear, and the winners were allowed to run a “victory lap” and meet professional athletes at the famous Prefontaine Classic the next day.

Pretty heady stuff for high school kids.

There were two other Arizona high school teams that qualified for the Nike Nationals, which attests to the progress the state track & field programs have made in recent years.  California was the only state sending more than three teams; they had six.

Brophy Prep finished in eighth place on the boys’ side, scoring 7,194.78 points.  The Broncos received an automatic bid courtesy of a No. 1 ranking in the Southwest Region.

Alex Bishop led the Broncos by winning the pole vault, and Geoff Roxborough finished fifth in the discus.

The Desert Vista HS girls’ team brought home an 11th place finish, accumulating 6,220.18 points.  The Thunder received an at-large bid, thanks to a No. 7 national ranking.

The Thunder had four seventh-place finishes from Yasmine Yacut (800m), Mary Krestchmar (long jump), Kadie McNamara (discus), and Julia Kline (100m hurdles).

It was the field events carried Chandler to the crown.  Their highest finish on the track was a third-place finish by Todd in the 100 meters.

Carson has another event at which she excels, the javelin throw.  The problem is, it’s not included in competition at the high school level.  So she throws at meets in the off-season.  She has a career-best throw of 173 feet, but wants to topple the high school record of 176’5″ in her senior year.

Chandler’s performance on the national stage hasn’t gone unnoticed.  Particularly in Arizona, where the Wolves will again set the bar high for next season.

All seven of the girls that made the trip to the Nike Nationals will be back again next year.