Chandler Rotary Invitational
When: Friday and Saturday
Where: Austin Field, located on the corner of W Erie Street and N Nebraska Street at Chandler High.
Friday’s Open Invitational schedule: Field events begin at 12:30 p.m., track events at 1 p.m. (all events are finals)
Saturday’s Seeded Invitational schedule: Track preliminaries begin at 9 a.m.; field events begin at 10 a.m.; track finals begin at 4:15 p.m.
It’s not a marquee sport in Arizona, but I would argue that Arizona track and field has more future Division I athletes competing this year than any other sport.
True, there are a lot more people competing in track than any other sport (if you count both boys and girls), but the talent is unmistakeable.
On Saturday, the Chandler Rotary Invitational will feature a lot of those future Div. I athletes, including some from out of state. According to Chandler athletic director Dave Shapiro, there will be 46 state champions competing on Saturday in the seeded portion of the two-day event.
The meet is the biggest, most competitive meet in Arizona, including the state championships, because you have the majority of Arizona’s best competing as well as some of the top performers from Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and even British Columbia. In all, there are 106 programs that will have at least one athlete competing.
The only way the meet could get better is if Chandler could lure more of the marquee teams from California.
If you haven’t been to a high school track meet in a while, this meet would be a good one to see. Some of the featured events are:
• The boys 110-meter high hurdles. Westwood’s Cameron Taylor, recovering from an injury, will take to the track for the first time this season and will have a lot of competition. Taylor has a personal best of 13.90 seconds and will need to run close to that to hold off defending Rotary champ Elijiah Britton of Montwood, Texas and Casey Young, a state champion from Regis Jesuit in Colorado.
• The boys mile. This event is notable because it has Tuba City’s Billy Orman in it. The Harvard-bound Orman is developing into one of the most dynamic distance runners in the nation and watching him run is worth the price of admission. Two New Mexico runners — Eric Fenton of Hope Christian and Jefferson Reider of Albuquerque Academy — will provide some company for Orman.
• The girls 100 meters. This event could showcase the host team (and what a team it is), as Chandler’s Jasmine Todd and Ky Westbrook have the top times coming in. While the high school track circles are familiar with Todd, this will be the first look many will have of the freshman Westbrook, who ran 11.97 seconds in the 100 as an eighth grader.
• The girls 800 meters. There will be three Arizona state champs in the race with Desert Vista’s Yasmine Yacut, Tess Berghoff of Arcadia and Show Low’s Chastine Virgin-Cruz. Don’t be surprised, however, if none of those girls win, with Xavier’s Katie Penney and Desert Mountain’s Marissa Opatz both coming in with solid early-season times and capable of coming away victorious.