Story and photo by Daniel Gaona
For the Pima Community College men’s and women’s track and field teams, regionals and nationals are nothing like ordinary meets.
Pima will travel to Mesa Community College on May 11 and 13 for the Region 1 Championships. Head coach Greg Wenneborg wants either the men or the women to be runners-up at regionals.
“Our goal is to get the upset,” he said. “Right now we’d probably take third or fourth at the region meet but we want to get runner-up.”
The teams are fully aware of what they need to do to bring home the hardware.
“We want to take a trophy home and everyone is going to have to do their part in order for that to happen,” Wenneborg said.
He also said the confidence level is high heading into the meet. Wenneborg feels that the team is set for a breakout meet and that it would surprise other teams because on paper it doesn’t look like Pima has a shot.
“Looking at the entries and looking at how our team is doing right now I think we could steal either a men’s or women’s second place finish,” Wenneborg said.
“The upside potential for the regional and national meet is so great and we’re just really excited for everyone.”
However, there is still some anxiety on the team.
“We’re a little nervous right now because there are sometimes downside potential and there are bad days,” Wenneborg said about regionals. “But right now I think we are poised to have a good meet.”
The biggest success factor through the whole season has been the depth and widespread talent for the Aztecs. It isn’t just a few events in which Pima is a contender.
“The thing I am so impressed right now is that we have such depth across the whole team,” Wenneborg said. “We’ve got our jumps crew in order, we’ve got our sprints crew in order, we’ve got our distances clicking right now and our throws are going to be a big surprise for us and score some huge points.”
Shortly after the regional meet, those on the team who qualified will head to Hutchinson, Kan. for the National Junior College Athletic Association Championships on May 20-22.
Middle distance runner Stephan Bullard and javelin thrower Sharissa Korn will be the top two Aztecs to watch during the upcoming meets. Both are legitamate contenders for NJCAA titles.
Bullard is currently the national No. 3 800-meter runner on the men’s side and his season best was 1:52.65.
“He has had some great workouts recently and I think as usual we expect him to go for a national title,” Wenneborg said. “He has a great shot because he is sharpening very well right now.’
Korn is the No. 2 female javelin thrower in the NJCAA with a best of 139 feet, 2 inches. Wenneborg thinks she can break the school record, which is 142-4, and win the regional and national titles.
Other athletes to watch include sprinter Derrick Coker and Kat Howard, who are both freshmen.
Coker ran the 100-meter dash in 10.70 but he needs a 10.69 to qualify for nationals.
Howard is the No. 6 5,000-meter runner and the No. 5 10,000-meter runner in the NJCAA.
“She is a machine,” Wenneborg said about Howard. “She improves every time she steps on the track.”
In field events on the men’s side Christian Tovar is a threat in multiple throwing events. He is No. 11 in shot put and No. 9 in the hammer throw. Wenneborg expects him to be a “big force” in both events.
Anthony Johnson should stand out in the high jumps. He is currently No. 11 in the country and Wenneborg said he’s clearing close to 7-0 at practice.
Both the 4×100 and 4×400 relay squads are ranked nationally. The 4×100 is No. 16 and the 4×400 team is No. 10. Chris Phillips and Matthew Robertson are on both of the relay crews.
Chloe’ Nowell placed third at the Region 1 multiple-events meet on May 3-4. Her point total of 3,695 puts her at No. 10 in the nation and qualifies her for nationals in the heptathlon. She had already qualified in the triple jump as well.
On the men’s side, Dylan Moeykens is ranked 10th in the decathlon with 5,673 points.
Visit AztecPressOnline.com for updates and results.
Track and Field national qualifiers as of May 6