Mingus Union sophomore Ariel Latimer looks well prepared to defend her state titles in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs.
Latimer won gold in both events at this weekend's prestigious Valley Classic Track Invitational at Alhambra High in Phoenix. The event featured more than 50 schools, most of them 5A.
Latimer sizzled the track in the 1,600 with a time of 5:18.04 – more than three seconds better than her pace in last May's 4A state championship race. She ran away from the pack in the 3,200 meters, clocking a time of 11:50.78 – about 29 seconds off her winning pace in the 2000 4A finale.
"The Valley Classic has traditionally been one of the largest meets in the state," said Mingus coach Duane Badger. "The meet is held over two days and attracts some of the best competition in the state."
Marauder Reggie Barron also collected two medals Saturday. Barron earned bronze in the long jump with a leap of 21 feet, 4 inches. He also placed third in the triple jump with a leap of 43 feet, 1.75 inches. Barron qualified for Saturday's long jump finals with a personal best of 21-5 in last Wednesday's prelims.
Freshman Philip Graham didn't place but advanced to Saturday's finale in the pole vault. He set a personal record with a vault of 12 feet and gave three quality attempts at 12-6, Badger said.
Personal records proved plentiful for the Marauders during Wednesday's prelims, held at Central High in Phoenix.
Tom Zanot and Rocky Chavez earned PRs in both the 110- and 300-meter hurdles. Camille Boothe set personal bests in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles, and Kaley Noble ran her best time in the 300 hurdles.
Kiera O'Connor and Cory Romine set PRs in the 3,200. Karl Phelps and Christie Hoover recorded new personal records in the triple jump. Mike Coffey and Andrew Sanchez tossed the shot at record distances, and Justin Currie enjoyed a new PR in the discus.
"Mingus has reached the halfway point in our season, and the training sessions are turning from conditioning to speed," Badger said. "I believe you will begin to see many more Mingus runners reaching faster times as the season continues."
The Marauders' new pole vault and high jump pits were scheduled to come in this week, Badger said. Performances in those arenas should improve as well.
"They will be right on time for Max Vickers and Philip Graham to go over 13 feet to 14 feet with the rest of the vaulters not far behind," the coach said.
Mingus is still accepting donations to help pay for the new equipment. Contact Badger at the school (634-7531) for more details.
The Marauders will travel to Scottsdale today (Wednesday) to compete with Coronado and Apache Junction in a three-way meet. The Peoria Invitational on Friday will again feature high levels of competition.
Mingus, still waiting to have a home meet, will host one, weather permitting, next Wednesday, April 11 at 3 p.m. Camp Verde, Sedona Red Rock, Chino Valley and Parker are scheduled to compete.