Camp Verde High track and field returns a number of familiar faces as it prepares to take on some unfamiliar challenges.
Camp Verde head coach Mike O’Callaghan said the Cowboys are young but their numbers are up from last year.
“It is a nice group of kids,” O’Callaghan said.
Although this academic year most teams have the same schedule or a very similar one to last year, the Cowboys will go to five new meets this year.
This season the AIA has added javelin as a scoring event and so the Cowboys added the Toro Invitational, hosted by Mesa Mountain View, the Sentinel Classic, hosted by Seton Catholic and the Fountain Hills Friday Night Fever Invitational because they have the javelin.
It means they will only go to Wickenburg once and will miss one of the meets n Sedona, but they have other perks besides the javelin.
“The kids will get to see some other teams we haven’t seen, just go to some different schools, see some different facilities and it’s just nice to see some other folks, not the same teams all the time,” O’Callaghan said.
When the javelins arrive the Cowboys will have several weeks before the Toro Invitational on Mar. 29 to determine who will compete in that event.
“We said ‘well we’re going to give it a try and we know the shot/discus people will try but I’ve had a couple of the other kids who run say ‘gosh, I’d like to try that’ and that’s fine because you never know where you’re going to find a good javelin thrower from,” O’Callaghan said.
Leading the throwers is senior Mathew Wade who finished 22nd at State in the discus.
“He’s been working with coach Mike Edgerton, gosh, at least once a week during the offseason,” O’Callaghan said.
Junior Joseph Jones, who ran the 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 4x400 and 4x800 last year, is among the athletes who worked during the winter. He started working with a coach in Flagstaff as soon as the soccer season ended.
“I feel pretty strong,” Jones said.
Junior Eliana Paniagua leads the way for the girls. Last year she ran the 400, 800, 1600, 4x400 and 4x800
“On the girls side, I truly expect Eliana Painiagua to run really well this year we’re trying to get her to the 2:20s, 2:30 or better, which would be a really nice step up for her,” O’Callaghan said.
She said they will be even better once her sister Edith gets healthy.
“I see a lot of potential in us this year and the guys are really good this year,” Eliana Painiagua said.
After taking second at State and fifth at the Meet of champions, in the 110 meter hurdles, junior Chris Holdgrafer is back.
“We’re hoping to get Chris into the 42, 43 foot mark this year at least,” O’Callaghan said. :In only his second year of jumping that would be pretty good.”
Also returning is 2016 Camp Verde alumnus Sam Swick. He is coaching the long and triple jumps.
Newcomers Steven Petty, Herrera Araiza and Noah Zimmermann are Cowboys that have impressed in their first year of high school track.
The Cowboys started the season on Wednesday at Wickenburg. Their first local meet is Mar. 20 at the Red Rock Multi-Meet at Sedona Red Rock.
“Last year we were a lot younger of a team and this year we’ve grown,” Jones said.