We begin our previews of the AIA Track and Field State Championships with the field events set for tomorrow. We'll see a lot of returning State Champions eager to finish their careers with one or more State Titles along with some challengers looking to pull off an upset. Check out our rundown of the field events.
The opening event of the AIA Track and Field State Meet will be the D1 Boys' Javelin, likely to come down to the State's top throwers, Alexander Ramirez (Mountain Pointe, Jr.) and Kevin Fairchild (Desert Vista, Sr.), both from Ahwatukee community. Earlier this month, Fairchild the returning State Champion threw a lifetime best of 195-6 at the Hohokam Invitational. At the time it was a State lead until Ramirez launched the Javelin 200-11, under somewhat windy conditions to take over the no. 1 spot. Tomorrow, we could see two of our boys throw past two hundred feet for the first time on Arizona soil.
The Boys' and Girls' Javelin contests for Division II will also be held tomorrow, in which Tyla Biggs (Casteel, Sr.) and Brendon James (Centennial, Jr.) are respectively entered as the favorites. Biggs leads the D2 Girls' field by almost 15 feet with mark of 129-3 which she threw almost two weeks ago at the Southeast Valley Championships. James opened his season at the Metro Relays, where he reached 169 feet. Since then he's consistently thrown over 160, however he'll have to stay on top of his game if he wants to confidently secure the victory over Tylen Riley-Coleman (Maricopa, Sr.) and Austin Liebeskind (Desert Mountain, Jr.) who will also be vying for the State Title.
Both of the Division I High Jump competitions will be held tomorrow and both will come down to close bouts between, Alex Gonzales (Highland, Jr.) and Malik Whitaker (Hamilton, Sr.) on the boys' side and Cierra Tidwell (Highland, Sr.) and Jada Sims (Xavier College Preparatory, Sr.) in the D1 girls' contest.
While Gonzales and Whitaker are both tied at 6-8, Gonzales cleared 6-8 to defeat Whitaker at the Sun Angel Classic earlier this month. However, the Hamilton Senior has jumped 6-8 on two occasions, at Brophy AMDG where he set a new school record and most recently, at Hohokam Invitational.
Tidwell and Sims are separated by only two inches but just like last year, it'll likely come down to the two of them. They set their lifetime bests back in March but tomorrow, they could push each other to new heights. At the Chandler Rotary, Tidwell won the Elite Girls' High Jump competition with a lifetime best of 5-10, while Sims cleared her personal best of 5-8 at the Brophy AMDG Invite back in March.
The D2 Boys' contest will be the third of High Jumps to be held tomorrow. Zachariah Paloma (Sunnyslope, Sr.) will aim to finish his Senior season as a State Champion. His crosstown rival, Lonzell Lanier (Arcadia, Jr.) will give him a run for his money tomorrow with just two inches between them.
Both of the Division II Pole Vault competitions will go down tomorrow, with two favorites set to dominate their respective fields. Almost two weeks ago, both James Coons (Gilbert, Sr.) and Taylor Starkey (Casteel, Jr.) dominated the Pole Vault competitions at the Southeast Valley Championships and they intend to win once more tomorrow at Riggs Stadium.
In the case of Starkey, she's steadily elevated her efforts throughout the season with victories at Chandler Rotary and at the Sun Angel Classic. She's specifically been aiming to overtake Nicole Baker's State Record of 13-4 and tomorrow could just be her day.
We'll also see the Division I Boys' competition, with Tim Ellis (Valley Vista), Austin Cox (Mesa Mountain View), Tanner Kippes (Corona Del Sol), all aiming to go out on top as Seniors. Ellis and Cox are both tied with lifetime best marks of 16-2 as the two best vaulters in the State, but they could both be easily overtaken by Kippes who's ranked just half-a-foot under his rivals.
Three girls have cleared 38 feet for the Triple Jump this season, and two of them will be competing in Division 2 State Championship, including the state leader Kenya Coburn (Sr.) of the Tempe Buffaloes. Earlier this month, the NAU signee dominated the Triple Jump contest at the Sun Angel Classic with a lifetime best of 38-5. She'll have to contend with Rylee Perkins (Centennial, Sr.) who holds a PR of 38-2.5 from last month's Rattler Booster Invite.
Kenashalee Kerr (Queen Creek, Sr.) leads the D1 Girls' field by a foot-and-a-half with her lifetime best of 38-4 from the Southeast Valley Championships. Her toughest challenger will likely be Courtney Weisenberger (Sr.) of the Perry Pumas. Just two weeks ago, Weisenberger won the Girls' Triple Jump at the Chandler City Meet with a mark of 37-9 which ranks her no. 5 in the State.
To begin with the Division II boys, Trayvion White (Sahuaro, Sr.) and Jalen Smith (Empire, Sr.) will contend for the D2 State Title as the top long-jumpers in the State. White has dominated every Long Jump competition he's contested this season and while Smith joins him among those to reach 23 feet, he hasn't jumped that far since the second week of March.
In the D1 Boys competition, Chandler sophomore Nicolas Nesbitt will be aiming to clinch his first State Title, over Jacob Myles of Boulder Creek. At the Chandler Rotary, Nesbitt placed 2nd in the Elite Boys Long Jump and holds a PR of 22-9.5 from the Brophy AMDG Invitational. On the other hand, Myles jumped 22-7 at the Ron Smith Classic and to date it's his only mark over 21 feet.
Could we see more athletes join White and Smith in the 23+ club tomorrow afternoon?
While the Desert Vista boy throwers have been one of the most dominant powerhouses in the state (among the boys at least), the Chandler girl throwers have risen as a source of point income for the Wolfpack in the wake of their jumps squad's massive graduating class from last year. They have Ciera Jackson (Jr.) and Makayla Hunter (So.) are ranked 1st and 2nd in the State for Discus. Meanwhile, Makiya Moore (Queen Creek, Jr.) will be looking to pull off the upset over the Wolves for her second State Title, this time as a Division I athlete.
The Division II contest is also very likely to be a close one between Kiara Anderson (Sr.) of the Dysart Demons and Alaina Diggs (Sr.) of the Millennium Tigers. At Chandler Rotary, Diggs threw 125-6 to place 4th ahead of Anderson's 8th place mark, while Anderson got to return the favor at Hohokam with a lifetime best of 130-6 which currently ranks her as the top girl in Division II and no. 5 in the State.
Parker Bayes (Ironwood Ridge, Sr.) will seek to finish out his high school career with a State Title in the D2 Boys Shot Put competition. Last year, Bayes placed runner-up to State Record holder Tyson Jones (Desert Edge, '18) with a toss of 50-11.75. This season, he's thrown 57-11.50 and has won each of his Shot-Put competitions from Chandler Rotary and onward.
The Desert Vista boys will undoubtedly bring the thunder in the throws once again this year. While his teammate Kevin Fairchild reaches for the victory in the Boys Javelin, Youssef Koudssi (Sr.) will look to hold down the D1 Boys' Shot-Put competition. At the Tempe City Meet, Koudssi threw 56-9 which currently ranks him no. 1 among D1 boys and no. 2 across all divisions.