Track records fall, nat’l marks set at Chandler Invitational

Like so many other events during the high school track & field season, the prestigious Chandler Rotary Invitational has become yet another stage for the Chandler High School girls’ team.  And a showcase for a junior sprinter at the school who is re-writing the state’s record books while she also sets national marks in numerous events.

Ky Westbrook won both the 100- and 200-meter dashes at the 73rd running of the biggest meet of the regular season, setting state and national marks in each.  Her time of 11.47 seconds in the 100 meters set a meet record and is also the fastest time in the country this season.  In the 200, she hit 23.64 to set another meet record.

And she’s got another year after this one to go after the state record of 11.31 in the 100-meter dash and the state mark of 23.60 in the 200.

Westbrook didn’t just burst onto the track scene this year.  She won the state titles in both the 100 and 200 in her freshman year, and again last year, when her time of 11.42 in the 100 was the third-fastest girls’ high school time in that event in state history.  In the summer after her freshman year, she placed second in the 100 meters at the Nike Track Nationals and then last summer won both the 100 and 200 in the Arizona Sprints Showcase, which featured some of the best high school sprinters from around the country; she was the only dual winner of the inaugural meet.

The young sprinter has been adding additional events to her repertoire this year, with plans to be a heptathlete by the time she gets to college.  Her performances are just one reason the Chandler girls’ team has won seven straight state titles- and will be favored to extend that streak this year.

Chandler’s Sherrelle Jordan also set a meet record in the 100 hurdles, crossing the finish line in 13.76 to record the third-fastest time in the state’s record books.  The time is just .17 seconds off the state record.

Add to those performances the first-place finish of teammate, Imani Adams, who won the 400 meters in 56.53.

On the boys’ side, the 1,600 meters was expected to be a high point of the meet, as Arizona’s premier distance runner, Bernie Montoya, was the featured competitor.  But the senior from Cibola High School in Yuma – who is the reigning state champion in the 800, 1600, and 3200 – finished the event in fifth place.  The surprise winner was Andy Trourard from Salpointe Catholic in Tucson, who broke Montoya’s meet record by finishing in 4:08.28.

Another interesting development in the distance competition, this time in the girls’ field, was the first-place finish by Kristi Rush in the 1,600 meters.  The senior from Highland High School ran a 5:03.60 to beat out Xavier Prep‘s Shelby Brown (5:09.79) and Sarah Fakler (5:09.89).

The surprise was finding Fakler in third place.  The senior is the premier distance runner in the state and the defending title-holder in both the 1,600 and 3,200; she also just won her third straight Gatorade Arizona Cross Country Runner of the Year.  But Fakler did finish the 3,200 meters in her usual position at the head of the pack, posting a winning time of 10:50.59.

Brophy Prep‘s Devon Allen also generates a lot of interest at these high-profile meets, but his recovery from an ankle injury isn’t complete, so the senior limited his participation to the 100 and 400 relays as he works his way back to full strength.

As a sophomore, Allen ran the best time in the nation (13.90) in the 110 high hurdles and finished second at state.  Then last year he won titles in both the 110 and 300 hurdles.  He also finished runner-up to Trae Armstrong from Deer Valley High in both the 100- and 200-yard dashes.  Those events were an exciting highlight to the state championships that will be remembered for some time, as Armstrong beat Allen by just a hundredth of a second in each event.

This year’s edition of the Chandler Invitational reportedly drew 125 schools and more than 3,300 participants and is traditionally the biggest event leading up to the year’s state finals.  That will also be the going-away party for elite athletes like Fakler, Montoya, and Allen.

But, for Westbrook, it will be just another tune-up to her finale in 2014.