Seems like just yesterday that the baton was being passed from Jasmine Todd, one of the best track athletes to pass through Chandler High School, to teammate Ky Westbrook.
But that was two years ago and Westbrook has since set her own school and state records, and has just capped them off with her selection as The Arizona Republic Girls Track Athlete of the Year.
Westbrook was a sophomore when Todd was competing in her final year for the Wolves. Todd’s senior year was cut short when she tore an ACL before she could get to the state finals and try for a fourth title in the triple jump and a third in the long jump and 100-yard dash. The talented duo had provided Chandler with an unbeatable 1-2 punch in the 100 and made up two legs of the school’s powerful 4×100 relay team.
When Todd moved on to the University of Oregon, Westbrook took over a leadership role on a program that had just won two high-school national championships – and just continued to get better at her primary events, while also adding a few more, with the intention of becoming a heptathlete in college.
That showed what kind of an athlete she is. When she decided to add the shot put in her junior year, she broke a state record by throwing the iron 47’9″ at the Chandler City Meet.
But speed was her specialty. She has never been beaten in state competition in either the 100 or 200 and set a state record last year in the 200 (23.39) that had stood for almost a decade. By the time this season ended, she had collected 12 individual Division I state titles and helped Chandler’s girls’ team to the last four of their nine straight state championships.
And, to warm up for her senior year, she traveled to the Ukraine during the summer following her junior year, where she won a gold medal in the 100-yard dash at the IAAF World Youth Championships.
Despite dealing with some nagging injuries, including a pulled hamstring, during her final prep season, Westbrook took the individual state titles this year in four events: 100m, 200m, 100 hurdles, and shot put.
And now she’ll start all over again next year when she dons the cardinal & gold uniform of the USC Trojans.
The Boys’ Track Athlete of the Year honors went to another speedster – but this one adds a few hurdles along the way.
Bobby Grant, a senior at Brophy Prep, won the award this year after breaking the state record in the 300 hurdles with a time of 36.24 that stood as the No. 1 time in the nation. The next week he won the Division I state title in that event and also added a championship in the 200 dash (21.44), and then ran a leg of Brophy’s winning 4×400 relay team.
He was able to keep his time in the 300 hurdles under 36.5 the entire season, which kept him at the top of the event nationwide – and caught the attention of schools like the University of Miami, where he will be attending next year.
“Last year, when I didn’t break a record and didn’t win state, it lit a fire in my stomach to come out hard and shoot for those goals,” he told The Republic. “Falling at Chandler (tripped over a hurdle in the 300 hurdles at the Chandler Rotary Invitational and didn’t finish the race) was really hard. But to come back with some good meets, that felt good.”
And this latest honor should make him feel even better.