After a long week of preliminaries, the track and field state championships concluded on Saturday, May 14 at Mesa Community College with 19 track events across four divisions and even more in field.
Desert Vista’s boys ended up winning the 2022 Division I title with 107 points. Perry’s girls won the Division I title with 87 points, edging five-time defending champion Chandler in the process.
“Very excited for the girls,” Perry girls’ track coach Bryan Idleman said. “They’ve all worked really hard. They deserve it.”
Led by a slew of top finishers in a variety of events, the Lady Pumas managed to capture their first-ever state track championship. In the process, they put an end to Chandler’s reign over the division, which included 15 championships in the last 16 years heading into the final.
Perry picked up early points on Saturday, May 7, the first official day of the meet where most of the events were preliminary heats for the finals. But one of the few finals ran that day included the 4x800-meter relay, where the team of Alexis Pagel, Kristyna Mlejnkova, Sydney Stevens and Taylor Lovell captured gold with a time of 9 minutes, 27.98 seconds.
It was the first of two gold medals for Lovell, who captured the 3200 gold later in the week and silver in the 800 on the final day. Pagel, meanwhile finished fourth in the 800.
The senior capped off her career with a silver medal in the 1600, just behind Desert Vista’s Katie Sigerud.
Perry’s girls also received major contributions from senior Avery Clark, who placed second in the 100-meter hurdles. Clark also won gold in the 300 hurdles.
“We have a group of young ladies who’ve been working hard all year. They’ve been pushing,” Idleman said. “To see them come up with the championship is more rewarding than I can imagine.”
Gilbert had several other standout performances, most of which on the girls’ side.
Highland’s reign as one of the top programs in the state continued with Lainey Jones’ first place finish in the 400. She went on to compete in the 4x400 team with Kali Mceuen, Emma Standifird and Camila Aguilar-Perez where they won gold. Aguilar-Perez placed second behind Jones in the individual 400.
Emma Baugh, who established herself as one of the top distance runners in the state, too silver in the 3200.
Campo Verde was well represented at the state meet, as it has been on a yearly basis. This year, it was sophomore Lea Spindell, who won the Division II 400-meter dash without much preparation as she had just competed in the 4x100 relay alongside teammates Ni’yah Pratt, Zaria Ayoola and Amber Thompson, placing fourth.
Brooklyn Montgomery won Division II discus for Campo Verde with a throw of 132-feet, 10 inches while Gavin Parks won the boys’ Division II 300 hurdles.
“We’re all so excited,” Spindell said. “And honestly, I just had to get up and run my best race.”
At nearby Williams Field, junior Saira Prince won the 100-meter hurdles. But she faced adversity while doing so hitting some hurdles along the way. But Prince said that she doesn’t let those mistakes bother her.
“I was definitely feeling the pressure, but I was prepared,” Prince said. “I was ready.”
Gilbert’s MarcAnthony Sanchez took second in the Division II 100 while American Leadership Academy – Gilbert North was well represented by a silver finish from Justin Provenzano in the Division III 100. He also was part of the team of Austin Izydorczyk, Jeremiah Wallace and Adam Damante that won the 4x100 relay in Division III.
North Canyon once again captured the girls’ Division II crown, while McClintock narrowly edged Gilbert for the championship on the boys’ side.
In Division III, Salpointe Catholic’s girls took the crown, beating second-place American Leadership Academy – Queen Creek while Snowflake edged the Patriots on the boys’ side. St. John’s girls won the title in Division IV.
Several other standout performances took place at the meet, including Red Mountain senior Yan Vazquez finishing just .64 seconds short of the 300 hurdles record.
“I was just trying to get my steps right and get the state record,” said Vazquez, who is now third all-time with a time of 36.86.
Red Mountain shined as a whole, placing third overall. Sophomore Tyler Matthews won the 800m race while Vazquez, along with his win in the 300 hurdles, also won in the 110 hurdles.
“I was really excited that my gameplan paid off,” Matthews said. “My plan was to go out a little bit slower than Brian [Fair Jr., who] got ahead of ahead of the rest of everybody and then to slowly catch him on the second lap.”
ALA-Queen Creek’s Logan Hubler played a key role in the Patriots’ second place finish as he swept the hurdles competition for the second year in a row.
Also a standout quarterback for the team, he was happy with the way he capped off his career.
“I went back-to-back this year,” Hubler said. “So, it feels good that all the hard work we put in this off-season is paying off.”