Story and photos by Vincent R. Crawford, Sports Editor
With one event left in the Division I boys’ state track meet, the 4x400m relay race, Phoenix Desert Vista led Chandler by one point, 93-92, and both schools had a foursome in the race. The Thunder controlled their own destiny, and if they had finished ahead of Chandler they would have been state champions for the second year in a row. The Wolves’ goal was to score at least two more points than Desert Vista and if they could do that then it would be their first time winning it all since 2012.
In the race, the first lap was close, but on the second leg, Stacey Boyd increased the Wolves advantage, provided by Latrell Tellis, and from that point on Imani Lee and Ta’Mir Waters kept Chandler (3:18.93) in front and en route to the state crown by three points, 102-99, with Chandler Hamilton (44) finishing a distant third.
“I was thinking I just had to do my best,” said Waters, who ran anchor. “No matter what happened we had to keep our heads up. We felt good going into the race.”
Lee added, “It felt good to get the W. We knew we had to win it to win the whole meet. We wanted DV all year. We ran them down.”
Lee (triple jump, 48-06.50) and Darius Sutton (long jump, 23-02.25) were the two Wolves’ field event winners. Chandler dominated the 110m hurdles with a 1-2-3 finish of T.J. Hayes (14.16), Kyree Woods (14.22), and Edwin Adams (14.30). Later, Adams (38.13) and Hayes (38.59) were 1-2 in the 300m hurdles. Hayes, Boyd, Lee, and Kendon Walker, in that order, passed the baton the fastest for one lap as Chandler (41.35) beat Hamilton (41.61) for the 4x100m relay championship.
Peoria Centennial’s Marcus Parker (10.59, 21.46) finished first in the 100- and 200-meter dashes ahead of Tucson’s DJ Hinton (10.99) and Phoenix Mountain Pointe’s Anferni Harris (22.05), respectively. Parker also won the 200 last year.
Phoenix North Canyon’s Tyrees Moulton ran a preliminary-best 48.31 in the 400m dash, but Tucson’s Tavian Ross (48.28) outran Moulton (48.41) to win the first place medal.
Desert Vista’s field event individual state champions were Torrey Hickel (shot put, 57-01), Elijah Mason (discus, 182-01), and Jymil Toney (high jump, 6-09.00).
Chandler’s girls track program had won nine consecutive state track titles until a dropped baton ended the streak, in 2015, giving the Division I state championship to Phoenix Mountain Pointe (108 pts.) by seven points over the runner-ups Wolves (101). A year later, Chandler (147) is back on top with their tenth state track title in 11 years and Mountain Pointe (102) was a distant second place. The meet took place Saturday at Mesa Community College.
The Wolves scored points in 13 of the 17 competitions; took home first place medals in six events; and won all three relay races – 4×100 (47.47), 4×400 (3:53.30), and 4×800 (9:07.43). Anaya Bailey, Zaire Chest, Raven Jordan, and Lamaya Williams were on the Wolves’ 4×100 team while Bailey, LaMeyah Charlton, Anna Forman, and Morgan Foster were on the 4×400 squad. Chandler’s individual state champions were Bailey (200m dash, 24.58), Jai Gruenwald (long jump, 19-01.25), and Tiana Poirier-Shelton (triple jump, 39-08.00).
“This title means all that hard work paid off,” Poirier-Shelton said. “I did work hard and this feels real good.”
For the second year in a row, Mountain Pointe’s Autumn Smith was a dual state champion with her victories in the 100m hurdles (13.99) and 300m hurdles (42.48) and she was second in the triple jump (38-08.75). Her teammate, Kayleigh Conlon finished first in both the discus and shot put competition.
Smith’s 300 time is fourth best all-time in Arizona history and after the race she said, “That’s not what I expected, but I’m pretty happy to win and got that, too, my senior year,” she said. “I think it’s harder to try to stay in front than to just try to be in front because in practice and at track meets I have to remember I am the top dog and they are coming after me now. I have no one to run like, okay, I am going to try to get her because I am her now.”
Surprise Liberty’s Christine Williford won an usual double with her first place finishes in the 400m dash (54.76) and 800m run (2:09.25). She also ran a leg on the Lions’ second place 4×100 and 4x400m relay teams (48.59; 3:54.73). Another Lion, Lashira Tremble (12.07), won the 100m dash.
Phoenix Desert Vista’s Shannon Fritz cleared 5-04.00 in the fewest amount of attempts as she won the crown over two other competitors in the high jump who also jumped 5-04.