It is, by any reckoning, a slow-starting season. But, we're starting to get enough of a mass of results that, in aggregate, they are beginning to mean something. Today, we take a quick look at what the boys results have turned up so far. Later this week, I'll be back with a look at the girls results.
We may expect some surprises as we go. It's been a little over 22 months since Arizona completed a full season of track and field. A few, and especially a few early, results came in last year before things go shut down in a hard way. All that means several new names are likely to have emerged on the scene.
We begin the process of picking out those names with this article.
People who write about track tend to start with sprints and then move systematically through the events, almost invariably ending with field events. I'm going to purposely turn that process on its head here and start with field events. It's time to give the jumpers and throwers, plus an odd pole vaulter or two, their due.
We'll start with the pole vaulters. The season is young, and we already have three at 14 feet or better. Don't expect it to end there, but that's a solid start. Tied for the lead at the top are Connor Wilson (Mesa Mountain View) and Elliot Wessel (Phoenix Country Day--and early candidate for our top small-school pole vaulter). Six inches behind, but still over 14 feet is Jagger Wilkes (Highland). I could take a flying leap of a guess at the favorite performing artist of Wilkes' parents, but I'll take a pass on that.
The high jump is as big on technique as the pole vault, but high jumpers tend much more to go into hibernation over the winter than pole vaulters. Pole vaulters have mastered the art of plying their trade almost year 'round. High jumpers, or at least many of them, are still busy honing their skills in the weeks leading up to state. The state's leaders are currently at 6-2. Those guys are Ryan Moore (Shadow Mountain) and Adrian Williams (Highland). Don't expect 6-2 to be good enough to get either of these young men to state. There's work yet to be done and higher bars to be cleared.
Long jump is less bound by fine points of technique than the high jump, so we tend to see a few early-season marks that might easily pass for late-season marks. Aiden Harvey (Sandra Day O'Connor) and Zachary Sutton (Shadow Ridge) are already out at 22 feet or better. That's impressive.
When we go to the triple jump, however, we learn to be more patient again. For the most part, these marks will get steadily better as the season progresses. Jamere Haskell does and does not have the best mark of the season so far. His 44-7 is easily the best distance to date, but he had a +2.5 wind giving him a nudge from behind. Doubtless Haskell would like to see a mark in that vicinity without the non-legal wind part. Isael Rascon (Trevor Browne) and Mason Hunt (Snowflake) have the best of the wind-legal marks so far at 42-6 each.
We now walk over to the rings and runway. At this time of year, we can reasonably expect shot put marks to be generally ahead of discus and javelin marks (at least as a percentage of what will eventually place at state), but you get the occasional exceptional throw early in the season even so.
In the shot put, Mason Hickel (Desert Vista) is, as expected, way out in front. He was flirting with 60 feet to open the season, but didn't quite get there. Amar Elmore (Chandler) is the only other one past 50, so far, at 52-5.
Hickel also leads the early returns in the discus, but his 169-9 isn't nearly as intimidating as his 59-5. Also out beyond 160 in the early going is Elmore at 164-10. Marks beyond 160 should start multiplying like weeds in the very near future.
Jake Railey (Shadow Ridge) has a commanding view of the javelin field at 191-1. Nobody, so far, is within 20 feet of Railey. Next best is Casey Shull (Queen Creek) at 170-5. These marks will climb, however, given a little time and maturity. Elmore makes his case as the state's best all-around thrower with a 169-1, but that title is not yet a foregone conclusion.
Trenton Givens (Valley Vista) is well out in front of the short hurdle group with an eye-popping 14.09 to open the season. The wind was legal, too, but barely so at +1.9. That clearly puts the early target on Givens' back. Chasing Givens are Kawai King (ALA Queens Creek) and Yan Vazquez (Red Mountain).
Extending the hurdle race to 300 meters, Vazquez has the early lead at 38.82. Nipping at his heels is Tyson Givens, the other of the Valley Vista duo, at 38.88. We might reasonably expect the best marks in this event to drop into the 36s before the season is over. It's a good start, but we're not now where we're going to be.
Right now, the best 3200 times are coming from the Sundown Track Series. For the moment, I'm going to bypass those until the same guys turn up similar times in AIA meets. It's not that those guys don't belong, but the state-sanctioned season needs to be the state-sanctioned season and not some random collection of this-and-that meets. So, the best time so far belongs to Noah Czajkowski (Red Mountain) at 9:34. I'm glad Noah's first name is easy to pronounce. Noah is currently sitting on a nice piece of real estate, if he can hold it.
The same rules apply for the 1600.
Austin Clayton (Mountain Ridge) and Xander Black (Brophy) were both in the 4:15s for 1600 meters this weekend. That's cooking this early in the season, but these guys also didn't start training yesterday. Distance runners are a little like pole vaulters--they find ways to do their thing all year 'round. Also of note, Jackson Moran (also Brophy) has gone under 4:20 already.
At 800 meters, there are already nine guys under two minutes. I won't name them all here, but there's a link to the complete rankings at the top and bottom of this article if you're interested. Most impressive so far are Pierce Vittone (St. Mary's Catholic) and Dayton Carlson (Casteel). Both are in the 1:57s after one attempt.
As far as the 400s go, it wouldn't have been unreasonable to have seen a sub-49 this early, but nobody's plowed the field yet. It is, however, very tight at the top with Avaunt Ortiz (McClintock), Jayden Davis (Casteel), and Christian Anaya (Hamilton) all between 49.17 and 49.19. In another month, most 49s should have turned into 48s or 47s, but we have to be patient for that to happen. For the record, there are seven 49s thus far.
The dam is still waiting to break at 200 meters. Dominick Brister (Centennial) is the first water over the dam at 21.73 (+1.3), but the dam has not yet washed out. 22-high should be a very ho-hum kind of mark in another month.
So far, we have eight guys under 11 seconds for 100 meters. No clear-cut favorite emerges from that mass, but the leaders thus far are Quaron Adams (Chandler) at 10.69, Zachary Sutton at 10.74, and Dominick Brister at 10.75. Each of those marks is fashionably wind-legal.
I won't even pretend to talk about relay marks this soon. For most programs, including most of the best programs, relays take considerable time to polish. Not only is there the process of determining who will be on the relays when it really counts, but there's also the issue of getting the requisite stick work to sing. It's nice if you blew somebody out with a relay performance one of the last two weekends, but it won't mean a thing come the end of April or beginning of May.
We should also note that, as promising as many of these marks are, there are several teams, and even more athletes, around the state that have not yet taken the track. They will have their say in these matters as well.
In coming weeks, I'll take deeper dives into various events areas with these articles. For this week, however, the view of the entire scene from 30,000 feet seemed a bit more appropriate.