Scouting Report: Desert Vista Girls

Desert Vista Girls

2018 D1 State Runners-Up

Girls' Head Coach: Cassandra Cline-McKenzie

It's been almost fifteen years since the Desert Vista girls' track and field team have won a State Title, but over the past six seasons the Desert Vista Lady Thunder have finished top three among Division 1 Girls teams at the AIA Track and Field State Championships. While the girls' program has always been a State-level powerhouse with Champions like Haley Wolf (2017) and Dani Jones (2015) in the distance events and Shaylah Simpson (2010) and Vanessa Davis (2015) in the Pole Vault, the Lady Thunder has always sought to develop contenders in every event from the sprints to the throws as well. Could they upset the Chandler Wolves for a third State Title this season?

Coach Cline Says…

Who are your top returners?
(Right: Sevanna Hanson secured the victory in the D1 Girls' Pole Vault contest and is the only returning State Champion among the Desert Vista girls. - photo by John Hays)
This year we're pretty balanced out across all of the events. We've got top-level performers in all of the event groups. Reina Ferra (Sr.) placed 4th in the D1 Girls' 400m and returns as our school record holder with a PR of 55.75 in the event. Jamelah Carswell placed 6th in the D1 Girls High Jump, although she's a pretty good heptathlete and she's still only a junior. Sevanna Hanson (Sr.) is the returning State Champ for the Pole Vault and could also make the Finals in the D1 Girls 100m Hurdles. Tori Roberts (Sr.) and Brielle Hankins (Jr.) will likey be top contenders for the Long and Triple Jumps respectively.
We also have plenty of underclassmen who add depth to the team having already bought into the process. Our distance girls are still developing as a group, but we have returners like Katy Clausen, Sydney Nedza, and even Jamelah Carswell in the Girls' 800m to set the example for the underclassmen. Olivia Thatcher and sophomore sisters Quinn Boardman and Eve Boardman, were part of the cross-country team that placed 3rd at the AIA Cross-Country State Championships.
Do you have any impact freshman or incoming transfers?
Reina's younger sister, Lily Ferra is a freshman who could step up her game this season, most likely around late March to early April. Also, Kolonnie Green (Sr.) from Great Oak High School in Temecula, CA just transferred to Desert Vista. Her mother works here and she plays basketball for Desert Vista so she didn't train with us over the winter, but she has PRs of 56.11 for the 400m and 43.49 for the Low Hurdles.
What meets are you keying in on this year?
The whole season is about building the process, and every meet has a purpose. At Chandler we get to compete against cross-town rivals we wouldn't normally face during most of the season. At Arcadia they want to compete against elite athletes from around the country and even at Sun Angel they get to compete in front of college coaches, so there's always a takeaway for them wherever they perform. However, the AIA State Championship is the most important meet of the season.
How has your preseason training been going?
We've been working on the technical stuff. Sprinters have been working on being explosive and getting out of the blocks. Jumpers work on getting their penultimate step right, their landing, and getting off the board. Hurdlers have also been working on their technique and speed as well. Also, during the winter we like to take them to compete at a few indoor meets like the AZ Indoor Classic and the Great Southwest Indoor Classic, to get experience competing indoors.
Have you set any goals as a team?
As individuals, the girls each have written goals in their personal journals, and they should know what they have to do in order to perform. However, as a team the end goal should always be to perform to the best of our ability at the State Championship and if I didn't believe in their capacity to win State, I would not be their coach.
(Below: Coach Cline (middle) poses with athletes Breanna Poe (left) and Tori Roberts (right). - photo from

What's the most important thing you want young people to learn through running/track and field?
The athletes need to believe in themselves and trust in the process. Regardless of ability, I want them to set and achieve goals and to hold themselves accountable to those goals by developing self-discipline and work ethic. They need to learn to communicate between each other, with their parents, with us as well as their future coaches, in order to build lifelong relationships and to continue their education.