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State track meet storylines

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Posted: Monday, May 5, 2014 2:00 pm | Updated: 2:30 pm, Mon May 5, 2014.

• Double (or triple or more) threats: Several East Valley athletes enter the state track and field championships leading their respective divisions in multiple events. Among the girls, Desert Vista’s Dani Jones (800, 1600, 3200), Hamilton’s Ashlee Moore (100 hurdles, long jump, high jump), Chandler’s Ky Westbrook (100, 200), and Chandler’s Bianca Finn (shot put, discus) are expected to take multiple trips to the awards podium. On the boys side of things, Mountain Pointe’s Paul Lucas (100, 200, 400, long jump), Corona del Sol’s Nathan Rodriguez (800, 1600, 3200), Hamilton’s Beau Eggers (shot put, discus), and Campo Verde’s Lucky Schriener (1600, 3200 in Div. II) will be going for more than one gold medal.

• The streaks: In every division, there is a girls team that enters the meet having won two or more consecutive state titles. Chandler (Div. I) holds the longest current streak with eight straight big-school titles to its credit. In Div. II, Tucson Salpointe has won two straight, in Div. III Cottonwood Mingus has two straight and in Div. IV, Tucson Pusch Ridge Christian has won two in a row. On the boys side, no one is riding a title streak into this year’s meet.

• Records at risk: Phoenix Brophy Prep’s Bobby Grant has already set a new state record this season, running the 300-meter hurdles in 36.24 seconds at the Northeast Valley Championships on Wednesday to pass his former teammate Devon Allen’s time of 36.39. The records to watch at the state meet are the girls 800 and 1,600. In the girls 800, the top two girls in the state (Desert Vista’s Dani Jones and Highland’s Lauren Ellsworth) will finally race head to head this season. Both will be eyeing the record of 2:08.61 set by Xavier’s Natalie Johnson in 2007. Jones has run the No. 2 all-time mark at 2:09.24 and Ellsworth the No. 3 time in Arizona history of 2:10.97. Those times came in races where there was little competition near Jones or Ellsworth, both juniors. If they get into a tight race with each other, don’t be surprised if both dip under 2:09. Jones also will take a run at the all-time mark in the 1,600 of 4:49.11, set by Mountain Pointe’s Sara Gorton in 1999. Jones has already ran a 4:49.28 at the Arcadia Invitational (where she finished second). She’ll need a challenger to push the pace for a record, and Ellsworth should oblige, as she has the next-best time in Arizona at 4:53.43. Mountain Pointe junior Paul Lucas has been climbing the all-time charts in the 100, 200 and 400, but his challenge will be the lack of a close rival, like he had with Brophy’s Devon Allen last year when Lucas ran 10.44 in the 100 (the record is 10.33). Lucas has the No. 1 time in the nation so far this year in both the 200 (20.84) and the 400 (46.86), making the all-time marks in both of those events (20.22 and 46.47, respectively) not out of the question.

• The greatest of all time? Arizona high school track and field fans have been treated to some of the greatest performers the state has ever seen in the last few years, with all-time records falling with regularity. A standout among those great performers has been Chandler’s Ky Westbrook. A perfect blend of power, explosion and top-tier speed, Westbrook is the all-time leader in both the 200 (23.37) and shot put (47-7 1/2), and the No. 2 all-time performer in the 100 (11.33). She was the World Youth Track and Field Championships winner in the 100 last summer and heads into this year’s state meet going for her fourth straight title in both the 100 and 200 and her second straight title in the shot put. By Westbrook’s standards, her senior season has been lackluster, but her sights are on summer meets like the U.S. Junior Championships July 5-6, where she’ll try to make the U.S. team for the World Junior Championships in Eugene, Ore. Look for Westbrook to go out with a strong state meet before heading off to USC. It’ll be a while before the state sees another talent like her.

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