By DIEGO LOZANO III
Now that the indoor track season has concluded, the arrival of the outdoor track season has Pima Community College head coach Greg Wenneborg anxious for competition.
“We are excited,” he said. “We always try to put the emphasis on the outdoor season.”
The Aztecs competed in the ACCAC Conference Meet in Coolidge on March 23, going 4-1 on the day.
Freshman Alejandro Valencia took first in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. His time of 9 minutes, 31.48 seconds is the fastest in the nation this year.
Sophomore Luis Gonzalez placed fourth in the event, finishing in 9:54.71, also good enough to qualify him for nationals.
Sophomore Labriel Leach qualified for the national meet in the 400 hurdles with a time of 54.4. The time is the fourth fastest in the country this spring.
Sophomore thrower Aaron Orduno continued his stellar season with a first and two second-place showings at the meet. He won the hammer throw with a heave of 149-5. Orduno was also the runner-up in the shot put (48-11) and the discus (140-11).
Freshman Deante Gaines took second in the triple jump with a leap of 46-5, while fellow freshman Eddie Wilcox cleared 6-10 in the high jump, good enough for second.
On the women’s side, freshman Nikki Regalado set a nationals-qualifying mark in the 1,500. She won in 4:56.04, which put her in second position nationally. Regalado also won the 5,000, breaking the tape in 19:54.48.
Sophomore Aly Haskell won the 400 in 57.73, and sophomore Kami Humphrey got second in the high jump, soaring 4-11.
PCC competed at the Willie Williams Classic at Drachman Stadium on March 15-16. Pima had a strong showing, qualifying five athletes f0r outdoor nationals.
Leach, who had missed qualifying for nationals by two-tenths of a second at Pima’s previous meet, erased the memory by placing third in the 400 hurdles, crossing the line in 53.67.
Gonzalez and Valencia each raced to national-qualifying times, too.
Gonzalez finished in sixth place in the 1,500 with a time of 4:02.05, while Valencia placed ninth in the 5,000 in 15:19.66.
Regalado continued her excellent season with a seventh-place finish in the 5,000, qualifying for nationals with a time of 18:29.53.
The 4×400 relay team of sophomores Adrianna Thomas Haskell and freshmen Makaela Pratt and Kathy Fisher also achieved the qualifying standard, placing sixth in 4:03.05.
PCC hosted the Aztec Outdoor Invitational at West Campus on March 9.
Orduno showed his dedication by competing in the hammer throw even after having been given the week off following indoor nationals. Orduno placed second with a throw of 141-4.
Freshman Carlos Rojel broke the tape for the Aztecs in the 200 in 23.55. Sophomore Aren Maxwell took second in the 1,500 with a time of 4:12.31, while freshman Joe Evans finished second in 110-meter high hurdles in 15.65.
For the women, Pratt continued her stellar season by taking second in the 400 with a time of 1:01.71.
With a strong core of freshmen, the Aztecs are looking to exceed their indoor success in the many competitions that lay ahead in the outdoor season.
“Now we get to go into the meaty part of the track and field season,” Wenneborg said.
The Aztecs will travel to Phoenix on march 28-30 for the Puma Outdoor Distance and Multi-Meet, hosted by Paradise Valley Community College.
March 28-30: @ Puma Outdoor Distance and Multi-Meet, Phoenix, 6 p.m./10 a.m./10.am