Thatcher girls finish first in Safford Bulldog Invitational; Pima earns six gold medals

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: A step past the block has Pima junior Nevaeh Grant with a slight edge in the 100. Sprinters, from left, are Valley Union senior Alexeya Bohlender, Bisbee junior Brynn Lumpkin, Safford freshman Amora Baldwin, Grant, and Show Low freshman Tayla Heiser. Grant finished first (12.70h), Baldwin second (12.90h PR), Lumpkin third (13.10h PR), Bohlender fourth (13.20h PR), and Heiser fifth (13.30h) during the Safford Bulldog Invitational on March 13.

Editor’s Note: This event took place Friday, March 13, prior to the suspension of high school athletic events due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

SAFFORD – Thatcher totaled 169 points to finish first in the nine-team Safford Bulldog Invitational on March 13. A rain delay followed the first running event. The Eagles had 54 points more than runner-up Safford (115), with 35 placements, two in first, six in second and a tie for second, four in third, five in fourth, six in fifth, four in sixth, four in seventh, and three in eighth.

Sophomore Kylee Dodge turned in a 48.98a personal best clocking in the 300 hurdles and the 1600 relay team also placed first (4:37.47a). Team members included senior Jerzie Hatch, freshman Rachel Richardson, senior Taya Baldwin, and Dodge. Additionally, Thatcher had 19 other personal bests and tied a previous one, and 18 season bests.

Pima sophomore Maya Mattice had a personal best 14-11 (LJ) and season bests 1:04.81a (400) and 31-10 (TJ); sophomore Aubrie Sherwood a personal best 27.15a (200); and junior Nevaeh Grant a season-best 12.70h (100). The 400 relay (51.22a) of Mattice, Sherwood, sophomore Ashlie Sherwood, and Grant also placed first.

Safford senior Jessica Bright-Shade had a season-best throw in the javelin (104-5) for first.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Thatcher sophomore Kylee Dodge clears the first hurdle during the 100 high hurdles ahead of eventual event winner Desiree Babb. Dodge was second (16.20h PR) to the Morenci senior who also set a personnel best 15.70h, and Thatcher senior Taya Baldwin third (16.50 SR).

Show Low senior Sydney Amos was first with personal bests in the shot put (35-7) and discus (118-9), senior Laylan Turner won the pole vault (8-6), and the 3200 relay (11:50.32a) of senior Star Florez, junior Melisa McNeil, senior Mary Layden, and junior Gracie Williams was also first.

Bisbee junior Yasmin Morales had a personal best 5-foot leap in the high jump.

Third place Show Low had 96 points, Pima (86), Morenci (54), Bisbee (50), Tombstone (30), Elfrida Valley Union (13), and San Simon (7).

Morenci Girls

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci junior Kayla O’Connell, right, took an early lead in the 1600 en route to first place (2:36.09a). Bisbee freshman Paloma Asaro, left, placed fourth (6:38.74a PR), Thatcher freshman Rachel Richardson second (6:08.45a PR), and Tombstone junior Jessika Howard third (6:30.03a PR).

Junior Kayla O’Connell and senior Desiree Babb both turned in gold medal runs to account for 40 of the 54 team points.

O’Connell ran a personal best 2:36.09a in the 800 plus times of 5:44.80a (1600) and 12:42.81a (3200) for first. Her previous bests were 2:36.95a (800) a week earlier plus 5:33.31a (1600) and 11:57.39a (3200), both two weeks earlier.

Babb clocked a personal best 15.70h in the 100 hurdles for first and a 50.43a (300 H) for third place. Her previous bests were 16.37aw (100 H) and 50.21a (300 H), both a week earlier.

The other eight points were added with personal bests by freshman Marissa Jacinto. She placed fourth in the 400 (1:09.67a) and sixth in the 800 (3:02.71a).

Also competing but not placing were seniors Reona Alvarez and Corrie White in the shot put. Alvarez ended 12th (25-3) and White 17th (20-11).

Buckeye Invitational

O’Connell, Babb, and freshman Aurora Bennett accounted for the 40 team points during the Buckeye Invitational March 7. Morenci ended seventh of 18 teams.

Six personal bests were set by the trio. O’Connell set a personal best in the 800 (2:36.95a) for first of 33 and also placed first of 39 in the 1600 (5:41.66a); Babb finished second of 15 in the 100 hurdles (16.35a) and of 17 in the 300 hurdles (50.21a), both personal bests; and Bennett fifth in the 300 hurdles (56.22a).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Spectators empty the stands as a rain delay interrupts the Safford Bulldog Invitational.

Bennett also came in 25th of 51 in the 100 (14.85a).

Senior Yrliana Molina finished 10th of 15 in the 3200 (17:07.97a) and 24th in the 1600 (7:14.73a); Alvarez 13th of 49 in the shot put (26-3.25); Jacinto had three personal bests, 1:16.36 (400) for 22nd of 34, 33.76a (200) for 41st of 45, and 17.11 (100) for 49th of 51; sophomore Imani Munn 31st in the 400 (1:24.16a), 44th in the 200 (35.25a), and 46th in the 100 (16.18a); White 41st in the shot put (29-0.25); and freshman Briana Crandall 47th in both the 100 (16.43a) and shot put (6-0).

Lake Havasu finished first with 111 points, Goodyear Estrella Foothills second (76), Surprise Willow Canyon third (74), Avondale Agua Fria fourth (El Mirage Dysart fifth (56), Glendale Raymond S. Kellis sixth (49), Phoenix Washington eighth (37), Surprise Valley Vista ninth (34), and Buckeye Youngker 10th (32).

Buckeye ended 11th with 20 points, Waddell Canyon View 12th (19.5), Glendale Trivium Prep 13th (18.5), Buckeye Verrado 14th (18), Wickenburg 15th (16), Coolidge and Surprise Paradise Honors tied for 16th with 14 points apiece, and Tonopah Valley 18th (6).

Event winners were Agua Fria freshman Sabatiney Onyepunuken in the 100 (12.28a PR) and 200 (25.33a), Paradise Honors junior Sydney Rolfe in the 400 (1:02.79a), Raymond S. Kellis sophomore Abigail Peck in the 3200 (13:42.24a), Estrella Foothills senior Rachel Bammel in the 100 hurdles (16.32a PR) and 300 hurdles (50.15a PR), and Washington senior Trinity Glason in the shot put (33-11.25).

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