Two years ago, the Chandler Rotary Invitational track & field meet produced three national records set by local athletes, creating one of the most memorable events in recent years.
All three national marks came in the distance competition of the Elite section, with Dani Jones from Desert Vista High establishing the fastest time in the nation in the girls 1,600 meters and Rio Rico‘s Carlos Villarreal adding two more records in the boys mile and 1,600.
That year featured perhaps the deepest pool of national-level high school talent in the event’s 75-year history. Jones was competing against Gatorade Cross Country Runners of the Year from four different states in winning the 1,600m.
There were 131 schools participating in 2015. This year the number increased to 154, a new record in its 77th running, and 4,218 entries. No national records, but 10 meet and state marks that were spread throughout the running and field events. Six of those went to local athletes.
Chandler High‘s relay teams picked up two new records, a state record of 3:47.98 in the girls 1,600 relay and a meet record of 41.48 in the boys 400 relay. That gave eight competitors a piece of a record. In the 1600: Anna Foreman, Armani Harris, Anaya Bailey, and LaMeyah Charlton. In the 400: Jaheim Brown, Kendon Walker, Imani Lee, and Ryan Johnson.
Turner Washington from Tucson’s Canyon del Oro High School picked up the individual state record, winning the boys discus with a throw of 215’8″ to claim the meet record as well – which he set last year. The senior’s throw of 64’6″ in the shot put was good enough for second place in that event, behind Tyson Jones‘ winning throw of 66’8″. Jones, from Desert Edge High School, also broke the meet record in the win.
Before Washington hit his latest top mark in the discus, a throw of 212’11” had stood for three decades as the best in the state. He crushed that by almost three feet.
The old meet record in the shot put was 60’9″. That means that three local athletes would have broken that record: Washington, Jones, and Desert Vista’s Elijah Mason, who threw the iron ball 62’5″.
The other two meet records that fell to locals were in the girls discus, where Mountain Pointe’s Kayleigh Conlon tossed the disc 150’7″, and the boys 400 meters, won by North Canyon‘s Tyree Moulton in a time of 47.15. Conlon also won the shot put with a heave of 42.5 feet and that marks the second straight year she has won both events at the prestigious event held at Chandler High School’s Austin Field.
Dani Jones’ record time of 4:44.46 in the 1,600m stood the test of time for at least another year. But Rio Rico’s Allie Schadler is knocking on the door in her final season of prep competition. She won the Chandler Rotary in a time of 4:45.39, edging Colorado’s Brie Oakley by .04 second in a finish that had to be electronically timed to call a winner.