It looks like the lead has changed hands once again in one of the most enduring rivalries in high school track & field as the Desert Vista High School boys’ team takes its turn as the Division I state T&F champion.
For the last 12 years, the state championship was often a matter of whether Desert Vista would take the boys’ title home, and Chandler High would finish runner-up. Or vice versa.
Nearly every year since 2006, one or the other team has either been crowned champ or finished runner-up. The lone exception was 2013 when Brophy Prep took the title and Corona de Sol High School finished runner-up. Six of those years, Chandler and Desert Vista took the top two spots.
And that’s how it has played out the last three years. This year it was Desert Vista beating Chandler for the title, 115-74, but the previous two years it was the reverse.
Brophy and Corona have been the only recent teams to break through the grip the East Valley powers have on the sport. Brophy won twice, in 2011 and 2013, while Corona was crowned champ in 2014.
On the girls’ side, however, there’s just one team that has staked a claim to the big-school title during that same time span. The Chandler girls relinquished their hold on the title just once, when Mountain Pointe High School edged the Wolves by seven points (108-101) to win the 2015 title. The Wolves lost the 4×400 relay that year when a dropped baton caused a disqualification that cost Chandler the 10 points they needed for the title win.
This year, there was plenty of room for error as Chandler ran away from the field once again, scoring 185 points, well ahead of runner-up Desert Vista’s 74.5 points. It marks the fourth time in the last six years that DV has been a second-place finisher, trying in vain to become the next David to topple Goliath.
Chandler spread its first-place finishes throughout the running and field events, as well as a couple of relays. Senior Jai Gruenwald was the workhorse for the Wolves, winning the 100 high hurdles (14.21), 300 low hurdles (42.63), long jump ((20’6.75″), and triple jump (38’3.5″). Her time in the 300 hurdles is the third-best in the Arizona high-school record books.
The other Chandler individual winners included: Morgan Foster (800 meters, 2:12.03), Haley Wolf (3,200 meters, 10:34.76), and Samantha Ponds (Discus, 144’2″). The Wolves also won the 1,600 and 3,200 relays
By contrast, Desert Vista relied heavily on its field events to win the boys’ title. While there were no individual first-place finishes on the track, Deshon Toney won the shot put (175’2″) and the discus (60’10.5″), and Kevin Fairchild took the javelin with a throw of 193’1″.
The four-day state tournament featured the event’s most dominant performance on opening day when Desert Edge High School senior Tyson Jones, who earlier in the season had broken the 60-year-old shot put record set by Dallas Long in 1958 while a student at North High, launched a winning throw of 68’10.5″ for the D-II title. It was short of the 69’7.5″ he threw to break Long’s record, but it was 17 feet farther than any of the other competitors.