Track and field hoping to produce champions

Story and photo by Daniel Gaona

Like always, Pima Community College women’s and men’s track and field coach Greg Wenneborg has high hopes entering the season. Among those hopes is a big one: crown another individual national champion.

For three straight years Pima has had one athlete win a title. Last year it was Aurora Trujillo in the 3000 steeplechase and the year before it was Jeremiah Korn in shotput. Nicole Smith had a hat trick in 2007, winning the high jump, long jump and triple jump titles.

“We’re trying to keep the streak alive and I think that could be the story for the year if everything goes well,” Wenneborg said.

For the teams overall, he wants both to finish top 10 at nationals. The women have managed to do so the last three years and Wenneborg feels this could be the year for the men.

He said the roster exploded with talent and there are currently more than 75 athletes on it.

“We’re dealing with trying to manage a lot of student athletes but we’re really excited because we seem to be fully loaded in just about every area,” Wenneborg added. “We have very few weaknesses this year.”

Wenneborg feels the Aztecs will excel in jumping events this year. He credits jumps coach Chad Harrison’s brilliant recruiting for bringing in talent.

“I think the jumps are going to be enormous for us and they’ve been a non-factor in previous years,” he said.

Wenneborg also thinks the team’s speed will stand out on the national level.

“I think the sprints are going to post some national class times,” he said.

Among the sprinting events is the men’s 4×400 relay, made up of sophomores Stephan Bullard, Chris Phillips and Phillip Hobart. There is still one more spot to be filled in place of Johnathan Lopez, who will miss the season with a knee injury but Wenneborg believes they can shatter the school record.

“We believe they can break the school record by maybe more than four or five seconds,” he said. “Doing that in a sprint event is amazing.”

Bullard is most likely the top athlete on the men’s side. Aside from doing the 4×400 he will also compete in the 800-meter dash. Last year at nationals he placed fourth in that event and his 1:51.6 broke the school record.

“I think I peaked beautifully and the season went very well, I did get fourth in the nation but I want to expand on that,” Bullard said about last season. “I hope to get sub 1:50 this year and hopefully win the national title. I want to build up my strength and stay strong and injury free.”

Wenneborg said heptahlets and decathletes are also stepping up for the team this year. The women compete in seven events and the men compete in 10.

Stephanie Montano is looking forward to having a breakout season after setting a lifetime personal record in pole vault at a UA winter meet.

“This is my first season doing heptathlon in general and I just want to excel in things that I am good at,” she said. “Hopefully I can do well in the running events but I have to work on the jumps.”

Central Arizona College will be a heavy favorite to win the region, according to Wenneborg. He said Mesa Community College and Paradise Valley Community College would be Pima’s main competition.

“We will beat Central Arizona in some events but as a team I don’t know if we are there yet,” he added. “We’re all shooting to have them looking over their shoulder for one of us to be region champion.”

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