AZ high school track teams flock to Sun Angel Classic

Arizona State has opened its track facilities to some 2,500 high school and college athletes from around the country this weekend.  But tomorrow’s events in the 32nd Sun Angel Track Classic could get a little water-logged.

For the colleges, the chance of inclement weather didn’t keep many of the best track squads from showing up at Joe Selleh Track to compete in what is annually one of the largest and most prestigious track & field events in the country.

The high schools got most of their competition in yesterday, with some finals scheduled for tomorrow.  But the colleges, and those high school athletes who return tomorrow for final heats, will likely have to brave some unseasonably cool temperatures mixed with a forecast of day-long rain.

Iowa has sent its women’s track and field team, looking for the traditionally great weather.  “It’s in the desert – you’re typically pretty confident you’ll get some good weather,” the Iowa coach, Layne Anderson, told the Daily Iowan before departing for the meet.  “The weather every year we’ve gone has been good, but it doesn’t mean at some point we’ll have some crummy weather.”

Tomorrow, he may feel like those words jinxed this trip to the desert.

But the high school athletes, estimated to be about 1,500 strong from all over the state, just had some pesky wind to deal with yesterday.  That may have been partly responsible for some times that weren’t quite up to par for these top athletes.

That may have been the case for Cameron Taylor, a senior from Westwood High School in Mesa, although he is also nursing a sore foot and ankle.  He won the 110 hurdles, but a headwind pulled his time down to 14.31, well below the 13.98 he ran a couple of weeks ago at the Chandler Rotary Invitational.

It may also have had something to do with Hannah Carson‘s results in the discus.  The senior from Chandler High School was dominating as usual in winning the shot put (45’3 1/2″) and high jump (5’8″), but managed just a tie for fifth place in the discus.  Her best toss of 103’10” was considerably off the winning mark of 128’11’ by Kadie McNamara of Desert Vista High.

On the boys’ side of the discus competition, Brian Thompson from Mountain Ridge HS worked his way through a field of 15 participants to win the event with a throw of 165’05” – which was also not up to his personal best of 171 feet.  However, the expenditure of energy it took to go through eight flights in that large field may have been more to blame than the weather.

Overall, it was a good day for Chandler High School, which didn’t seem to be bothered much by a little wind.

Chandler had wins in the girls 100 hurdles, where Sherrelle Jordan recorded the winning time of 14.58, and the boys 300 hurdles, won by Paul Perkins in 39.30.

The Wolves also swept the top two spots in the girls 200-meter dash, where Ky Westbrook took first in 24.64 and Alexis Roberts was right behind in 25.03. Westbrook also won the prelims of the 100-meter dash in a time of 12.25, well off her personal best time of 11.80.  She is ranked second in the state in the 100 and third in the 200.

And Alexis Roberts had the best time in yesterday’s preliminaries in the girls 400m, finishing with a time of 58.19 to put her in good shape going into tomorrow’s finals.

In the boys shot put, Chandler didn’t get the win, but took three out of the top four spots.  Erik Johnson from South Mountain HS won it with a toss of 54’04”, but he was followed by Chandler’s Dominic Nappe (53.11), Tevin Wheaton (52’10”), and Travis Colby (52’01”).

The Chandler girls also took the title in the 4×800 relay, and then won the prelims of the 4×100 and 4×400.  The 4×800 relay team that posted a 9:48.09 winning time included Kelsey Starr, Desirae Elias, Megan Maholovich, and Mia Townsend.  Townsend is a sophomore that ran the anchor leg.

When the colleges take over tomorrow, there will be eight Top 25 teams in the field, and 13 individuals that currently hold a mark ranking them in the national Top 5.

Perhaps the most prominent among the host Sun Devils is Anna Jelmini, who is the national leader in women’s discus.  The redshirt freshman from Bakersfield, Calif., outdistanced the national field by nearly 18 feet when she threw for 198’05” to set the top mark.

The University of Arizona will be in the field tomorrow, but has sent just a small group of distance runners.

The majority of the Wildcat squad will be competing in Austin, Texas, this weekend at the Texas Relays.  That event, in its 84th year, is considered the granddaddy of national meets and, unfortunately, goes head-to-head this weekend with the Sun Angel Classic.