Prep runners break decades-old records at Chandler Invite

Even the best sports teams have to be pushed to reach their full potential.  Chandler High School‘s track team can thank their California rival for providing that extra challenge over the weekend as the Wolves laid claim to a first-place finish at the prestigious Chandler Rotary Invitational.

Long Beach Polytechnic High School made the trek from Cali to take on the field of 100 other teams that showed up from six states and Canada.  But the one team that had their full attention was Chandler.  The Wolves had beaten Poly the last two years for the national high school title, awarded at the Nike Track & Field Nationals.

But the Jackrabbits left Chandler High’s Austin Field with only a runner-up ribbon in the girls’ competition  to take back to Long Beach.  And, since the Olympics have pre-empted the Nike Nationals this year, they will have to wait until 2013 before getting another shot at beating Arizona’s best.

The Chandler girls’ squad racked up 155 points to put a lot of distance between them and second-place Poly (92 pts), while the boys’ team blew past runner-up Brophy Prep, tallying 86.5 points to the Broncos’ total of 50.  Poly came in 10th among the boys’ teams.

Arizona teams took the top three boys’ spots, as Mountain Pointe High School came in third with 42 points, and Xavier Prep came in third on the girls’ side with 42.5 points.  Both are Phoenix schools.

But the real stars of the event didn’t come from Chandler High or Long Beach Poly. Two long-standing state records were erased by a couple of Arizona hurdlers from different parts of the state.

Devon Allen from Phoenix’s Brophy broke a 32-year-old state record for the 110 high hurdles and Jaide Stepter, a senior at Canyon del Oro High School in Tucson, set a new mark for the girls’ 300 hurdles, erasing a 27-year-old record.

Allen, a junior who will also be recruited for his skills as a football wide receiver, hit a time of 13.62, shaving the old mark of 13.69 set by Mossy Cade while running for Santa Cruz High School in Eloy.

Stepter finished the 300 hurdles in a time of 42.18 to break her own meet record of 43.79 from last season and now has eclipsed the state record of 42.67 set in 1985 by a runner from Chaparral High School, Christy Nore.

Stepter’s time is also the best in the nation this year.  But she was not the only athlete setting a top national mark.

Jasmine Todd, who is finishing out her final year at Chandler High, set a meet record in the girls long jump with a leap of 20’01.5″ – now the No. 1 jump in the country.  She also won the triple jump (39’01.75″) and gave the Wolves a 1-2 finish in the 100-meter dash.  Teammate Ky Westbrook took first in the event with a time of 11.65 and Todd’s 11.76 was good enough for second.

The invite also provided an opportunity to watch the top two premier girls’ distance runners in the state go head-to-head, as Xavier Prep”s Sarah Fakler took on Rolonda Jumbo from Chinle High School.

Jumbo, the senior, still held the edge over the junior, Fakler.  Jumbo won both the mile run and the 1,600 meters.  She finished the mile in 4:57.90 to edge out the Xavier runner’s time of 5:03.35 and ran a 4:55.94 in the 1,600 meters to best Fakler’s 5:01.56.

In both races, Jumbo probably thought she was seeing double at times.  A Xavier teammate of Fakler’s, senior Laura Orlie, finished both races in third place, but was shoulder-to-shoulder with her Gator teammate as they crossed the finish lines – less than a second off Fakler’s winning times.