By DIEGO LOZANO III
In only the program’s third year of indoor competition, the Pima Community College men’s and women’s track and field teams are hoping to be top contenders in this year’s NJCAA Indoor Championships.
Head coach Greg Wenneborg is focused on the upcoming meet, which will be held in Lubbock, Texas, on March 2.
“Our goal is to be top 10 on the men’s side and top 10 on the women’s side,” Wenneborg said. “That is our goal, and will always be our goal.”
Wenneborg believes both squads have a realistic shot of getting there.
The men’s team placed 19th at indoor nationals last year, while the women came in 18th.
Wenneborg is looking for both squads to turn in nationals-qualifying performances early on to set the tone for both the indoor and outdoor seasons.
The teams started out the year at the Paradise Valley Community College Indoor Invitational on Jan. 19.
For the men, four athletes turned in nationals-qualifying marks, including freshman high jumper Eddie Willcox, freshman weight thrower Aaron Orduno and sophomores Ruben Canastillo and Lance Ross in the 600-meter run.
On the women’s side, meet winners included freshman triple jumper Marlee Sherwood, freshman Makaela Pratt in the 200 and 400-meter runs, sophomore Lucia Hernandez in the 1,000, sophomore Aly Haskell in the 600.
The women’s 4×400 relay team also placed first.
Wenneborg mentioned incoming recruits, saying, “We have to have a secondary set of top eight to 10 finishes from our support crew.”
Wenneborg pointed to jumps coach Chad harrison as a strong contributor in the team’s recruiting efforts.
With a strong core of incoming freshman, Wenneborg is looking for the sophomores to serve as models for the team’s standards, including multi-decathlete Jarrell Betton for the men and middle-distance runner Shelby Slocum on the women’s side.
Betton will be competing in the indoor heptathlon.
“We believe he’ll be a national contender this year,” Wenneborg said.
Wenneborg extolled Slocum’s work ethic, saying she can be seen before and after practice preparing for competition.
“She’s a model for others, because she clearly is putting the extra work in. She’s just been great.”
The Aztecs return to Paradise Valley for another indoor invitational on Jan. 25-26.
Pima’s first home meet will be the Aztec Indoor Invitational on Feb. 2. The meet is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. at the West Campus track.