The Chandler High School girls’ track team got a better grip this year.
The result: a state championship.
Last year, the girls’ team dropped the baton during the running of the 4×400 relay, the final event at the state track meet. That miscue cost the Wolves 10 points, and the title. That relay team had won the state title the year before and was favored to win it again.
They finished seven points behind Mountain Pointe High School in the totals, as the east Phoenix school claimed the 2015 title, and Chandler had to settle for runner-up.
That loss at state will be remembered by Chandler fans for a long time to come because it ended a nine-year reign for the girls program.
But this year, the girls’ team won the 4×400, and the 4×800, and then added first-place finishes in the 200-meter dash (Anaya Bailey, 24.58) and the triple jump (Tiana Poirier-Shelton, 39-08).
A sweep of the top three spots in the long jump, behind Jai Gruenwald‘s win at 19-01.25, rounded out the scoring and helped secure the 2016 state championship. Poirier-Shelton finished second (18-11.50) and Diamond Black wrapped up the sweep in third (17-11.50).
The Chandler boys’ team also took care of business – and used the 4×400 relay to nail down their side of this year’s state title.
Desert Vista High School, which has collected four state boy’s team titles in the last nine years, won last year, but was cut short of its bid to repeat as state champion in the day’s final event. The Thunder was ahead of Chandler by a single point going into the 4×400 relay, and had finished first in the prelims by posting a 3:20.31 time. But the Wolves clocked a 3:18.93 in the finals to claim the 10 points for the win – and the title.
In addition to the 4×400 relay win, Chandler picked up its 102 total team points with top finishes in the 110-meter high hurdles (T.J. Hayes, 14.16), 300 hurdles (Edwin Adams, 38.13), long jump (Darrius Sutton, 23-02.25), and the 4×100 relay (41.35). Hayes led a sweep of the top three spots in the 110-meter hurdles, with Kyree Woods close on his heels at 14.22 and Adams in third at 14.30, and also ran a leg of the 4×100 relay.
Desert Vista won the 4×800 relay and picked up some much-needed scoring in the field events, winning the discus (Elijah Mason, 182.01), shot put (Torrey Hickel, 57-01), and high jump (Jymil Toney, 6-09).
Centennial High’s Marcus Parker provided some excitement for the crowd at Mesa Community College, posting a sizzling time of 10.59 in the 100 dash – the state’s fastest time in the event this year. He also defended his title in the 200 dash.