At only 16 years old China Simmons is one of the youngest seniors in the state of Arizona. With top times in the 100m and 100H she is also one of the fastest. Arizona Milesplit Photo.
Dani Jones and the DV Ladies Distance Crew: To call these girls anything less than dominant would be lying. Dani Jones, sister Baylee Jones, Kyky Lopez, Mason Swenson, Mandy Davis and Haley Wolf simply tear up distance track and field in Arizona. A major tip of the hat goes to their coach Jeff Messer for having these girls in tip top shape. The only question in my mind is how high can they go? I would imagine this crew only expects to lose to teammates. If Desert Vista is to challenge for a team title, they will need to get a lot of points out of these girls. Alexis Nichols, Ali Kallner, Kelly Naumann, Taryn Estavillo and Yarithza Soto all have the talent to break up DV sweeps. Will any of them be able to do it? I guess you will have to watch the state meet to find out.
Nura Muhamad and the Pride Jumpers: Coach Larry Todd's jumpers are to the long and triple what Jeff Messer's harriers are to the distance races. If Mountain Pointe is to make a serious challenge as a team for upsetting Chandler it will be on the backs of Nura Muhamad, Chynna Simmons and Tria Seawater-Simmons. Jai Gruenwald from Chandler would love to spoil their party and score some points for Chandler. Each and every point she can take away from the Lady Pride will be valuable for Chandler. If you are interested in the team race this weekend, make sure you pay attention to what is happening at the jump pits as points scored here could have an outcome on which teams get which trophies.
Nastasia Peevy: While Nastasia is relatively new to track and field she has wasted no time in rocketing her way to the top of the state's standings. Yes, Ky Westbrook is gone. No, Nastasia is not a younger sister, but sometimes you wouldn't know the difference. Nastasia will be favored to win gold everytime she touches the track at state. If she can score 30 points (100m, 200m, 4x100m) for the Chandler Wolves they will be in good shape as a team.
Isaiah Oliver vs Brandon Jamieson (Hurdles): I know you might be asking why do I consider this a matchup to watch, well, simply put the hurdles are unpredictable. In the years I have been around track and field I have seen many top seeded hurdlers not finish on top. If anyone can sweep state it is Isaiah Oliver. He is not only one of the best track athletes in Arizona, but one of the best track athletes in the entire nation. However, one sloppy trail leg on prelims could change all that. If for whatever reason Isaiah falters look for Brandon Jamieson to be more than happy to swoop in and finish on top. Isaiah is the favorite, but in a couple of very unpredictable events.
Zarriea Willis vs Shannon Fritz (High Jump): Zarriea is the class of the state in the high jump. Her season best mark is two inches ahead of Desert Vista leaper Shannon Frtiz. However, like with most field events, the high jump has greater variability from week to week than track events. It is very rare to have definitive favorites. As such you can't rule any jumper out entirely. In their most recent head to head match up at the Kiwanis Invite Shannon best Zarriea on a tie breaker. Though just a couple week earlier Zarriea had beat Shannon at the Chandler Rotary. State will come down to who is having a better day.
Maj Williams vs Tavion Ross vs Oscar Mills (400m): Paul Lucas hasn't run since Arcadia. This means the state meet is a lot more open in all of the sprint races. Maybe the most competitive of these will be the 400. Oscar Mills of Sandra Day O'Conner is still learning track and field, which is a scary thought. Last year, in only his first year running after getting cut from the baseball, team Oscar managed a 3rd place finish in the 400m. This season he has only run in the 49's due to a hamstring pull suffered in early March. However as that has been healing his times have been coming down. Track fans at the Sun Angel Classic witnessed a 48.00 (hand timed) anchor split by him on the 4x400. He was also running slightly more than 400m since he got the baton early. The future of the event is obviously Maj Williams. Even though Maj is only a sophomore he is without a doubt the future of Arizona sprinting bar injury. He beat Highland's Daniel Egbo in the open 400m at Sun Angel in a tight race, clocking one of the fastest times on the year. Neither Tavion Ross or Daniel Egbo can be disregarded, they have solid times to their names and can be counted on to compete at state. This is not a race you will want to miss.
China Simmons vs Arniesha Mitchell (100H): This is your classic east valley vs west valley grudge match. Two seniors in their last prep meet who want to go out as champions. China has been working hard all season to finish on the top of the podium. As evidenced by her 100 time China might have the edge in terms of raw speed. China has been working on the hurdles for the past 4 years, but as one of the state youngest seniors at age 16 I think the edge on total track experience would have to go with the Chandler hurdler. Arneisha also has the benefit of training with arguably the best track and field program in the Southwest in recent memory. Look for the track to get really really hot Saturday afternoon when these two toe the line, it will be a barn burner.
Kayleigh Conlon vs Corneisha Mitchell (Discus): Kayleigh and Corneisha are the premier throwers in the state with Kaleigh holding a slight edge in the discus and Corneisha holding a definite edge in the shot put. The thing about the discus is it is a highly variable events. Kaleigh has thrown as low as 111' this year, while Corneisha's best is almost 25' off her best mark. There are many factors which go into this such as the wind and the slope of the field, so it's not entirely streakiness that account for the wide variety of results. However, count on the girl who is the most “on" to win the state meet in this match up.
Vanessa Davis vs Nicole Baker (Pole Vault): These two athletes are teammates during the club season and rivals in season. Both of them have signed with D1 colleges and have a bright future ahead of them. Before they head off to Tempe and Lincoln, we will get to see them one more time down here in Arizona. If we are lucky we will get to see a state record fall as well. Currently Nikki holds the state record, but Vanessa has the better mark on the season. Neither one of them have come especially close to getting the state record so both will be looking to PR. Can either one of them do it? Both of them? We will have to wait and see. I just know that I am going to pay a little extra attention to the pole vault when the division 1 girls are up.