Distance events rarely get everyone’s attention at a state track and field meet, but thanks to some powerful efforts from Phoenix Desert Vista in the boys events and Phoenix Xavier on the girls side, distance took center stage at the 5A-I state championships Wednesday.
Desert Vista’s boys began their quest for a title with a powerful performance in the 3,200 relay.
Jeff Bolton, Matt Swift-Kraemer, Sean Rutledge and John Kline ran a 7:47.99, setting a state record. It showcased the depth the Thunder are bringing to this year’s meet.
“It definitely is a motivational thing for our team,” Swift-Kraemer said. “We get to give important points and help do what we’ve got to do to win a title. It was also nice to win this after coming in second in this race last year.”
Xavier’s girls garnered 44 points on the first day of the meet at Glendale Community College, with 24 points coming from the finals of the 800-meter run. Natalie Johnson defended her state title with a 2:15.5, but more importantly, Xavier finished first, second, fifth and seventh.
“We have a lot to do if we’re going to be able to beat Chandler,” Johnson said. “We haven’t had a top three finish in years, so a first, second, or third, well, we’ll be extremely happy.”
No matter what happens, the effort of Jessica Tonn in the 1.600 will be one of the highlights for years to come.
Tonn, the fastest freshman 1,600 runner in Arizona history, won the event with a 5:02.8, beating teammate Sarah Penney by nearly two seconds and also Glendale Mountain Ridge twins Nastia and Nadya Bishton.
“I hope this is something I can hold on to for four years, but no matter what, I got to race against three awesome girls and they have helped me so much,” Tonn said.
Xavier’s big day gave them a 25-point margin to work with going into Saturday’s finals. The boys first day was much tighter: Desert Vista, Chandler and Tempe Corona del Sol were within six points when the day was done.
Other East Valley athletes who won Wednesday: Chandler’s Bryce Lamb (triple jump, 49 feet); Mesa Red Mountain’s Alishia Asijie (shot put, 39-7 3/4 feet) Chandler’s Cameron Jordan (175-7, discus) and Corona del Sol’s Phil Feinberg (6-10, high jump).