E.F., Buckeye individuals win state titles
Neither Buckeye nor Estrella Foothills cracked the top-five teams at the Division III state track and field championships May 9-10 at Mesa Community College, but each school had an individual state champion.
Estrella’s Tori Wayne won the girls’ high jump, while Buckeye’s Jordan Banister was crowned the boys’ long jump champion.
Wayne leaped 5 feet, 6 inches to win the high jump, but was disappointed in her result. She was aiming for a personal record of 5-8, she said.
“I should have gone straight to 5-8,” Wayne said. “I barely hit the bar with my heel [at 5-7].”
“Her first jump of the season she broke the school record, it was 5-7,” Estrella girls coach Casey Grant said. “I think she self-defeated herself because she didn’t get a personal best, but to have the school record and be a state champion is awesome for her.”
Wayne also placed in the 300-meter hurdles, taking second in 48.48 seconds. She failed to make the finals in the 100 hurdles.
“She had a mishap in 100 hurdles,” Grant said. “In the first preliminary race she fell after the first hurdle and still almost caught the last person. She was only three seconds off her normal time. A best time definitely would have put her in the finals.”
Despite not making the 100H finals, Wayne earned a third medal as part of the 4x100 relay. She ran the anchor leg of the race with Cierra Lee, Taylor Huff and Logan Huff. They finished third in 50.75.
“The three girls, both Huffs and Tori, are outstanding in whatever I put them in,” Grant said. “I told them if they can find another leg, we can train someone to run the first leg. Cierra worked extremely hard to get the team where they needed to be.”
Taylor Huff placed in two other events, tying for third in the high jump at 5-0 and taking sixth in the triple jump at 32-09.25.
“For her being just a second-year track athlete, she showed by far the most improvement over a year-and-a-half time span,” Grant said. “She was probably my most dedicated girl on the track, so I was happy to see her place.”
Huff had an ankle injury that she endured through in the state meet.
“She hurt it high jumping at the Wickenburg meet a couple weeks ago; she was on crutches the week before [state]. That’s how she is, she’s a tough person. She won’t tell you about an injury until it’s extremely bad, and when it’s bad she will do whatever it takes to still compete.”
Overall, Estrella’s girls finished eighth, earning 32.5 points.
“That’s not too shabby,” Grant said. “We had seven girls compete all weekend and took eighth place. It was definitely a good group.”
Banister redeemed himself after placing second to teammate Jabril Taylor in last year’s long jump competition, winning it with a personal record jump of 22-7.25. Last year at state, Banister leaped 21-10.25.
“He wanted it really bad,” Buckeye coach Pat Maddux said. “It was kind of funny, he said afterward, “Jabril is giving me a hard time, I’m calling him right now.’”
Banister’s first jump was a 20-5, then he went over 21, Maddux said.
“It was the jump before the winning jump where he was out there, but he made his feet come down … I told him, you’ve got to hold longer,” Maddux said. “After that he jumped 22-7 and he said, ‘Man, I heard you saying hold.’ It was the difference.”
Banister had an up-and-down season, going past 22 feet early on before suffering an injury and then going through a shoe change.
“I bought him jumping shoes, cause he’s been using sprint spikes, which most kids do,” Maddux said.
However, Banister’s distances started going down at that point.
“At first I’m going, what did I do?” Maddux said. “I started thinking, as soon as I got you those shoes, this started happening. So I said, let’s go back to the sprint spikes.”
It ended up making the difference.
“It was really huge, and the sweet thing is he PR’d at the state meet,” Maddux said. “I was really pleased because Jordan is such a good kid and works hard.”
Buckeye had two other competitors medal at state. Mikhael Gomez took second in the shot put, throwing 48-01.25.
“For a kid that had never done track, he came out his senior year and I believe he started the year about 40 feet,” Maddux said. “[Coaches] Marcus [Matheney] and Sarah Griffis did a great job with Mikhael.
“That shows you the power of coaching, because they did a great job with a kid that has never thrown the shot before. They took a kid who was so raw and made him second in state.”
Tanner Jonovich took fourth in the discus, heaving it 132-0.
“There’s a combination when you coach, of the kid and you as a team,” Maddux said. “You get to know each other, the kid has to know your style, you have to know the best approach, and that started to click. Marcus did a great job with that, and Tanner started to mature, so he got a lot better.”
Estrella’s boys had one individual place in two events, and a relay team that scored points.
Branden Leon took second in the 200 and fifth in the 100, running those races in 22.96 and 11.34, respectively.
“That’s a little higher in the 2 than what he was seeded, but we definitely expected him to be in the final five or so,” Estrella boys coach Matt Johnson said. “It was not a PR in the 200, but still good enough to get second. He was really excited to get a silver medal.”
The 4x100 relay, which consists of Marlon Holland, Kylan Knox, Marcus Young and Leon, finished sixth in 44.36.
“That was their PR as a group, but our actual PR this year was a 43.33, which was faster than what won state,” Johnson said.
Unfortunately for Estrella, Joe Logan suffered an injury and couldn’t run at state.
“Those guys did a great job, they got their fastest time as a group, and we return all those guys, they’re all underclassmen,” Johnson said. “To make finals and be in the mix was a good experience.”
Casey Pritchard can be reached by email at email@example.com.