Just like that, the biggest track meet before early May is coming.
The 74th rendition of the Chandler Rotary takes place next weekend (March 21-22), where, again, the best in Arizona high school track and field, and several other states converge on Chandler High School.
According to the meet’s website, kids from 83 schools in Arizona and 110 total schools from around the country are signed up. The field includes California, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Texas and Illinois.
Again, the brain behind this massive operation is Dave Shapiro, the former Chandler High athletic director who went into semi-retirement after the 2013-2014 school year. It’s “semi-” retirement mostly because of the size and scope of this year’s track meet (along with the Nike Tournament of Champions for basketball and volleyball), and nobody else could possibly make this event go to the degree that it does.
Similar to last year, when a change was implemented, the meet will be only finals and will be contested as a three-session meet. Friday (open), Saturday morning (seeded) begin at 9 a.m. (field events) and 10 a.m. (track) and feature fields of an estimated 32 to 40 athletes. Saturday evening (elite) will feature fields of 16 to 24 athletes with field events beginning at 4 p.m. and track events at approximately 4:45 p.m. The meet usually goes until 9:30 or 10 p.m.
This neck of the woods has more schools and kids worth watching than any person can (pardon the pun) track: Chandler’s Ky Westbrook is already headed down the path of being the best track and field athlete in Arizona high school history, and Tope Williams, Imani Adams and Co. are going to race toward another state championship.
Paul Lucas (Mountain Pointe) could break state and meet records in the sprint events. Tevin Mayfield (hurdles), Matt Eckles (pole vault) and Nate Rodriguez (long distance runs) have Corona del Sol primed to win a state championship.
The list seemingly goes on forever and the meet is only enhanced by the out-of-state talent scheduled to compete. Randall Cunningham II (son of the NFL great by the same name) and his sister, Vashti, make up the greatest high jumping sibling duo ever, with Randall, a senior, already clearing 7-feet-3 1/4 and Vashti, a sophomore, clearing 6-0 3/4. Throw in the always-talented Long Beach Poly (Calif.) team and the weekend will be something to behold.
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune assistant managing editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.