By STEVE CHOICE
Pima Community College’s track and field teams closed out a successful campaign at the NJCAA national outdoor meet on May 18. The three-day competition was held at Gowans Stadium, the home track of Hutchinson Community College (Kan.).
The women came in 16th out of 29 teams, scoring 19 points. The men tallied nine points to claim 22nd out of 36 squads.
Freshmen Brianna Rodriguez and Nikki Regalado earned All-American honors for Pima. Rodriguez soared to a third-place finish in the long jump, going 18-7 on the final day of the meet. Regalado placed fifth in the 10,000-meter run on day one, clocking 18 minutes, 46.72 seconds.
“Although we came up short on the team placing at the national meet this weekend, we achieved all of our goals,” head coach Greg Wenneborg said. “All in all, I think we should be very proud of our Aztec track and field squad for all their accomplishments.”
Freshman Kathy Fisher crossed the finish line in sixth position in the finals of the 400 hurdles with a time of 1:03.29. Fisher broke the school record for the event on day two, running 1:02.77.
Sophomores Esther Estrada and Lucia Hernandez also competed in the 10,000. Estrada placed 13th in 42:17.37 and Hernandez claimed 15th with a time of 43:01.85.
On the men’s side, freshman Alejandro Valencia took fifth place in the 3,000 steeplechase, completing the circuit in 9:33.40.
Freshman Eddie Wilcox leapt to seventh in the high jump, clearing 6-9 3/4.
In the 1,500, sophomore Lucas Ruiz placed seventh in 3:59.76, while fellow sophomore Luis Gonzalez was one spot behind him, crossing in 4:01.40.
At the regional meet, held in Mesa on successive weekends in late April and early May, the Aztecs totaled nine champions for the four-day event.
The men’s team finished second with 178 points behind front-runner Central Arizona College. The women also came in second, scoring 187 points, with Central again as champion.
For the men, Ruiz won the 1,500 for the second straight year, clocking 3:54.79.
Freshman Deante Gaines claimed the triple jump title with a leap of 47-4 7/8. He also placed first in the long jump.
Wilcox cleared 6-9 7/8 to win the high jump, while sophomore Aaron Orduno took the crown in the hammer throw with a heave of 160-11 1/8.
The men’s 4×400 relay team of sophomores Ruben Canastillo, Lance Ross and Labriel Leach and freshman Alfonso Mejia posted a nationals-qualifying mark, finishing third in 3:17.01.
Regalado broke the tape in the 5,000 in 18:59.87. Sophomore Aly Haskell took top honors in the 400 with a 56.88 effort, and freshman Marlee Sherwood won the triple jump by soaring 37-9 7/8.
On day three in Mesa, Rodriguez leapt to a first-place finish in the long jump with a leap of 18-8 5/8.
The ACCAC released its all-conference teams on May 8. Below are the Pima athletes who made the first and second teams, respectively.
Leach — 400 hurdles
Caleb Herrera (SO) — 5,000
Canastillo — 4×100 relay
Gaines — 4×100 relay, long jump
Orduno — hammer throw, discus, shot put
Ross — 4×100 relay
Ruiz — 1,500
Khalil Hakim (FR) — 4×100 relay
Stuart Landis (FR) — javelin
Jose Rojas (SO) — 3,000 steeplechase
Regalado — 1,500
Sherwood — triple jump
Estrada — 5,000
Haskell — 4×100 relay, 400
Fisher — 400 hurdles, 4×100 relay
Diona Johnson (FR) — 4×100 relay
Makaela Pratt (FR) — 4×100 relay
Pima Community College will have more than 20 athletes competing at the NJCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Hutchinson, Kan., on May 16-18.
On April 29-30, Pima looked to its multi-event athletes to place among the region’s best at the meet in Mesa.
Sophomore decathlete Jarrell Betton did so emphatically by racking up a total of 5,847 points to place third overall.
With the performance, Betton is now ranked eighth in the nation. As long as Betton can maintain a top-16 position, he will make his way to Hutchinson for a taste of championship competition.
The women’s heptathlon was also contested, with two Aztecs holding it down for Pima.
Sophomore Kami Humphrey and freshman Becca Harris had strong showings, finishing third and fourth, respectively.
Humphrey totaled 3,670 points in her best effort of the year, while Harris scored 3,357. Both women are seeded in the top 16 of the event.
The squads’ other athletes participated in the Triton Invitational at the University of California-San Diego on April 26-27. The meet drew young talent from across the nation.
Pima added four new entrants to its list of 5,000-meter run competitors at nationals.
Freshman Nikki Regalado reinforced her status as an elite competitor by crushing her own school record by nearly six seconds in the 5,000, winning in 17 minutes, 46 seconds.
Not far behind her were sophomore teammates Jamie Shrader, Heidi Lopez, Lucia Hernandez and Esther Estrada, who all easily clocked national-qualifying times in the event.
Sophomore Luis Gonzalez turned in a personal-best 4:00.32 in the 1,500 to move on to the roster of championship-bound runners.
On April 20, the Aztecs made an impressive showing at the second ACCAC Conference Meet in Glendale.
The men’s squad kissed its sister by equaling Central Arizona Community College with 92 points for a first-place tie, while handing defeat to the Glendale, Mesa, Paradise Valley and Scottsdale community college teams.
On the women’s side, PCC tallied 78 points to place second.
Freshman triple jumper Marlee Sherwood has ascended the ranks to add her name to the list of Hutchinson-bound competitors. Sherwood leaped 38-3 in Glendale, snatching a first-place finish in the process.
Sophomore sprinter Aly Haskell, a future University of Colorado Buffalo, blazed down the track in the 400-meter dash, winning in 56.73. Haskell will compete with both the 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams in Kansas.
The 4×100 team of Haskell and freshmen Diona Johnson, Kathy Fisher and Makaela Pratt had a national-qualifying performance in San Diego, crossing the finish line in 48.39.
Sophomore Aaron Orduno completed the trifecta of throwing events, placing second in all three.
In the hammer throw, Orduno launched the 16-pound hammer 153-7. He also tossed the shot put 46-6 and the discus 142-3, wrapping up a superb outing. He will be participating in the shot put and hammer throw at nationals.
Sophomore Labriel Leach took first place and posted a national-qualifying time in the 400 hurdles, finishing in 52.86.
The teams have exhibited consistency and turned in top-tier performances all season.
With the men holding an 8-1-1 record in conference competition and the women in similarly good standing at 8-2, neither squad should be overlooked in Hutchinson.
Pima’s full squads will journey to Mesa for the Region 1 championships on May 7 and May 9, in hopes of placing several Aztecs among the region’s finest. Competition is set to begin at 5 p.m. on both days.
By DIEGO LOZANO III
With the NJCAA Outdoor Championships nearly a month away, the Pima Community College track and field teams are starting to get hot at just the right time.
At the Glendale Last Gasp Meet on April 13, Pima increased its list of national-qualifying athletes after sophomore Lucas Ruiz broke the tape in the 1,500-meter run in 3 minutes, 58 seconds to claim his spot for national championship action in Hutchinson, Kan., on May 16-18.
The Aztecs made their presence known as sophomore Luis Gonzalez also took the top spot in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, clocking 10:01.10.
Freshmen jumpers Brianna Rodriguez and Marlee Sherwood each had impressive showings down in the sand pits, as each accumulated a top-3 finish.
Rodriguez leaped to 16-2 in the long jump on her best effort to finish third. Sherwood’s best series of jumps put her at 37-3, just inches behind the top finisher.
Before Glendale, the squads traveled north for the Mesa Classic Invitational and the Sun Angel Classic at Arizona State University on the weekend of April 5-6.
Ruiz and freshmen Caleb Herrera and Tyler Stamp each eclipsed the national-qualifying time for the 5,000 at Mesa by at least 10 seconds to punch their tickets to Hutchinson.
The Pima women were on fire at Mesa, as sophomore Jamie Shrader also added her name to the national-qualifying list with her third-place finish in the 1,500 in 4:57.78.
Freshman Kathy Fisher stepped up to the plate at Mesa, blazing down the track in the 400 hurdles for the first time this season. She earned a spot to Hutchinson after her qualifying time of 1:05.24 gave her a fourth-place finish.
Sophomore speedster Aly Haskell, who recently signed a letter of intent to compete at the University of Colorado next season, sprinted to a fourth-place finish in the 400 after clocking her final time of 56.83.
Pima found a bright spot in the javelin throw after freshman Stuart Landis launched the spear 184-10, tallying his best mark of the season.
Freshmen Deante Gaines and Khalil Hakim and sophomore Antonio Jeter also combined for three top-10 finishes in the long jump. Gaines and Jeter finished second and third respectively, while Hakim took seventh.
Gaines also stretched out to 47-4 in the triple jump, racking up a third-place finish, while Hakim jumped 42-9 to finish a few spots below at eighth.
Wilcox has been in beast mode throughout the season, and jumped to second place at Mesa. His highest mark was 6-7.
Wilcox also took fifth place at the Sun Angel meet with a two-inch improvement of 6-9, competing against top-tier athletes.
Freshman Nikki Regalado, who has already qualified in the 5,000, battled to 14th at Sun Angel against heavy competition, while of shattering the school record for the event with her time of 17:52.85.
Sophomore Labriel Leach continued to showcase his talents in the 400 hurdles in front of national scouts at the Sun Angel Classic with his third-place finish in 53.34 seconds, placing above many Division I athletes.
With 19 athletes already booked to compete in national championship action, the Aztecs have been a model of consistency throughout the outdoor season.
PCC will return to Glendale for the second ACCAC Conference Meet on April 20 to attempt to add to their already stellar roster of championship competitors.
By DIEGO LOZANO III
Former Pima Community College track athlete Jason Holley considers himself very fortunate to still be involved with the sport he loves.
Holley, a 2002 graduate of Santa Rita High School, had many prolific performances during his two-year stint at PCC. They ultimately landed him an athletic scholarship to Adams State University (Colo.).
An injury-filled season at Adams State eventually marked the end of Holley’s days as a competitive jumper. He came back to Tucson to further pursue his education at the University of Arizona.
With his competing days as an athlete far behind him, Holley admitted the adjustment of solely committing his time and effort to school wasn’t a feasible task.
“All I was doing was working and going to school five or six days a week, and it just wasn’t fun,” he said. “One day I just wasn’t feeling it anymore.”
Holley said being out on the track was all he had known since junior high, and he felt a void in his life. The feeling eventually led to him temporarily dropping out of school.
“I look at it as a bad decision, but it kind of helped me out in a way,” he said. “I had to find something.”
That came in the form of a former Pima teammate, who caught up with Holley in a class at UA before his decision to drop out.
Marcos Blanco, then an assistant track coach at Sunnyside High School, strongly urged Holley to join the staff as a jumps coach. From there, Holley was introduced to a whole different life on the track.
“I liked it, you know. It filled the void of when I wasn’t going to practice,” he said. “I was able to go help people out, but at the same time it was hard for me to tell these kids to go to college when I dropped out, so that made me go back and finish up.”
From there, Holley adopted a new role on and off the track, and he hasn’t looked back.
After coaching at Sunnyside for six years, he moved to his current position training kids at Tucson High Magnet School.
Holley also credits the lack of a coaching figure during his high school days as a stimulus for him guiding younger athletes through their everyday tribulations.
“I was used to not having coaches around; nothing went through my head,” he said. “I was just lucky I was naturally gifted. I got by on athleticism alone.”
Holley doesn’t only aim for his athletes to improve on the track. More importantly, he places emphasis on developing their character away from the sport.
“You want them to come out of the season a better person, not just an athlete. I mean, anyone can develop an athlete,” he said. “Having them the same person as the beginning of the season, in my head, that’s not making much progress.”
Holley attributes his personal development to his coaching experiences.
“It helped me learn to deal with different people,” he said. “I can’t just be set on my ways and expect everyone to jump on-board with me.”
Coaching or not, Holley says his passion for the sport will never die. That serves as a testament to his character and his genuine, heartfelt dedication to teaching the young athletes of tomorrow.
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
By DIEGO LOZANO III
The Pima Community College track and field teams set five nationals-qualifying marks at the University of Arizona’s Willie Williams Classic at Drachman Stadium on March 15-16.
Freshman Nikki Regalado placed seventh and qualified for nationals in the 5,000-meter run, finishing in 18 minutes, 29 seconds. The 4×400 relay team of sophomores Shelby Slocum and Adrianna Thomas and freshmen Makaela Pratt and Kathy Fisher also set a qualifying mark, coming in sixth with a time of 4:03.05.
On the men’s side, sophomore Labriel Leach qualified in the 400 hurdles with a time of 53.67, good enough for third.
Sophomore Luis Gonzalez met the standard in the 1,500, placing sixth in 4:02.05, while freshman Alejandro Valencia also qualified in the 5,000, coming in ninth with a time of 15:19.
The squads began the outdoor portion of their seasons at West Campus on March 9.
On the women’s side, freshman Becca Harris placed first in the pole vault, going 8-6 1/4. She also took top honors in the triple jump, leaping 35-5.
Freshman Sabrina Montano’s heave of 35-9 1/2 was good enough for second in the shot put.
For the men, freshman Carlos Rojel broke the tape in the 200-meter dash in 23.55 seconds.
Sophomore Aren Maxwell took second in the 1,500-meter with a time of 4:12.31, while freshman Joe Evans placed second in the 110-meter high hurdles in 15.65.
The squads tacked on five more school records at the NJCAA Indoor Championships at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, on March 1-2.
“We are excited right now,” head coach Greg Wenneborg said after the meet. “We always try to put the emphasis on the outdoor season.”
The men’s squad placed 16th in Lubbock, finishing three spots higher than last season, while the women’s team came in 20th.
The men’s distance medley relay lineup of sophomore Lance Ross, Valencia, Gonzalez and freshman Austin Stone eclipsed the school record with a time of 10 minutes, 16.91 seconds.
The quartet finished third overall in the event, and were awarded All-American honors for the impressive performance.
Valencia also topped the school record in the one-mile run with a time of 4:21:29, placing seventh.
Sophomore Aaron Orduno performed well in Lubbock, placing in the top 10 in two events.
Orduno placed seventh in the weight throw with a heave of 53-7 3/4, while his shot put mark of 51-6 1/2 earned him a ninth-place finish and added his name in the Aztec record books.
Freshman Eddie Wilcox impressed collegiate spectators earlier in the season with a 7-foot high jump on home turf. Wilcox placed fourth at nationals with a jump of 6-11.
Freshman long jumper Khalil Hakim finished 12th with a leap of 21-10, while sophomore Jarell Betton took 14th in the heptathlon, totaling 4,112 points.
Stone turned in a 2:34.53 time in the 1,000-meter, failing to qualify for the finals. Ross clocked a 53.06 in the 400-meter, also missing out on the finals.
On the women’s side, the distance medley relay team of sophomores Aly Haskell, Lucia Hernandez, Slocum and Regalado shattered the previous school record with a time of 12:55:85, placing seventh in the event.
Haskell furthered her performance by surpassing her own school record in the 600-meter dash, finishing third overall with a final time of 1:34:74.
Regalado crossed the finish line in eighth position in the 3,000-meter, covering the distance in 10:54.87.
Sophomore Kami Humphrey placed ninth in the pentathlon with 2,847 points, while freshman Marlee Sherwood got 14th in the triple jump with a leap of 35-2 1/2.
The Aztecs will compete at the first conference outdoor meet in Coolidge on March 23. Competition begins at 10 a.m.
By DIEGO LOZANO III
At the beginning of the indoor track season for the Pima Community College Aztecs, head coach Greg Wenneborg was looking for both of his crews to turn in some early national-caliber performances.
After five weeks of competition, both teams have done so and been nothing short of sensational in the process.
With the indoor championships right around the corner, Pima returned to Tucson with more national qualifiers after competing in the Arizona Relays at Central Arizona Community College on Feb.16.
Wenneborg looked to sophomore weight thrower Aaron Orduno at season’s beginning to serve as a positive example for his peers. Orduno has done so emphatically by qualifying for three events in the championships, to be held in Lubbock, Texas on March 1-2.
Many underclassmen have exhibited signs of promise as the conclusion of the indoor season inches closer. Freshmen Nikki Regalado and Makaela Pratt both raced their way into the Pima archives after their performances at Central.
Regalado, who broke the school record for the 3,000-meter race on Feb. 9, set the record for the 5,000-meter with a time of 19 minutes, 42.38 seconds to take first place.
Pratt qualified in the 200-meter dash with a time of 25.44 seconds and broke sophomore teammate Aly Haskell’s previous school record in the event.
Sophomore Alejandro Valencia also stamped his name into the record books in the 1,500-meter after he finished in third place with a time of 3:58.92.
Two more Aztec jumpers will compete in Lubbock, as freshman Khalil Hakim qualified in the long jump, finishing in first place with a jump of 23-7.
Sophomore Antonio Jeter also placed second in the triple jump with his jump of 49-11.
The Aztecs previously competed in the Glendale Community College Indoor Invitational on February 9.
Sophomore Lance Ross earned a nationals-qualifying time in the 200-meter with a time of 22.02, while finishing in second place.
Pima will compete in the Glendale Last Chance meet on Feb. 22-23.
March 1-2: NJCAA Indoor National Championships, Lubbock, Texas, TBA
By DIEGO LOZANO III
After turning in some national-caliber performances at the first Paradise Valley Indoor Invitational previously in the season, the Pima Community College track and field teams were looking to continue their early-season momentum.PCC hosted the Aztec Indoor Invitational on Feb. 2, and had national-qualifying performances by both squads.
On the women’s side, sophomore Aly Haskell put on an impressive performance while posting a national-qualifying time in the 600-meter run, winning in 1 minute, 37.17 seconds.
Pima dominated the field events, as freshmen Marlee Sherwood took first place in the triple jump and Sabrina Montario took second in the shot put.
Sophomore Shelby Slocum ran out to first place in the 1,000-meter while eclipsing the national-qualifying time with a finish of 3:08.6.
For the men, freshman Khalil Hakim exploded in the long jump, winning with a leap of 6.89 meters (22-7 1/4). He also placed second place in the triple jump with a jump of 13.51 meters (44-3 3/4).
The men’s 4×400 meter relay team of sophomores Ruben Canastillo, Lance Ross, Chris Leung and Labriel Leach placed second, posting a national-qualifying time of 3:21.14.
Freshman jumper Eddie Wilcox set a national indoor-leading mark in the high jump with his winning leap of 2.15 meters (7 3/4).
Sophomore Austin Stone broke the tape in the 1,000 meter in 2:33.9.
The second Paradise Valley Indoor Invitational for Pima, scheduled for Jan. 25-26, had to be cut short on the second day of competition because of rain.
However, that didn’t stop sophomore Kami Humphrey from bringing home the first-place hardware in the women’s pentathlon. She posted an accumulated score of 2,969.
Humphrey’s best finishes included wins in the long jump and the high jump. She leapt 5.02 meters (16-5 3/4) in the long jump, while soaring 1.61 meters (5-3 1/4) in the high jump.
Sophomore standout Jerell Betton was looking to achieve similar results in the men’s heptathlon, as he sat in fourth place prior to the invitational being postponed.
When competition resumed after the two-day delay, Betton moved up a slot to finish third overall, obtaining a score of 4,270.
Betton’s top scores featured second-place finishes in the shot put, with a throw of 11.56 meters (37-11 1/4), and also in the high jump, with a leap of 1.87 meters (6-1 3/4).
He also took fourth in the 1,000-meter and finished the 60-meter in 9.2.
Pima will travel up north for the Glendale Indoor Invitational on Feb. 9 to face top-tier competition.
Feb. 9: @ Glendale Indoor Invitational, Glendale, noon
Feb. 16: @ Arizona Relays, Coolidge, 10 a.m.
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.
Compiled from PCC press releases
The Pima Community College track and field team closed its season at the NJCAA National Tournament in Levelland, Texas on May 17 as the women’s team finished in 11th place with 19 points. The men’s team finished in 25th with a team score of six points.
Jodine Steemers finished the 5,000 meters race in 6th place with a time of 19 minutes, 56.29 seconds. Steemers had earned All-American honors for her 2nd place finish in the 10,000 meters race on May 15. Anaiz Zamorano took 7th place in the 400 hurdles event with a time of 1:06.18.
Antonio Jeter also earned All-American honors in the tournament. Jeter won his honor in the triple jump event by placing 3rd with a jump of 48 feet, 11 and a-half inches.
The Region I Tournament at Mesa Community College concluded May 3 with the Pima track and field team claiming four more region championships, securing two new national qualifying times and having its best finish in over a decade.
The women’s team finished in second place in team competition with a score of 197. Central Arizona College took first with 295. That’s the best finish for the women’s team since 2001.
Jamie Shrader won the region championship in the 1500 meters race with a time of 4 minutes, 58.80 seconds. The Aztecs scored 25 points in that event as they posted four finishers in the top six placements.
Jodine Steemers took first place in the 5000 meters race with a time of 19:20.6.
Shelby Slocum and Heidi Lopez took 4th and 5th place respectively and both finished with national qualifying times. Slocum finished at 2:20.6 and Lopez was at 2:21.4.
In men’s competition, Antonio Jeter won the triple jump region championship finishing with a jump of 49-feet, 9-inches. The Aztecs place three finishers in the top six spots. Lucas Ruiz won the 1500 meters region championship with a time of 3:57.8. The team finished tied for fourth place.
The Aztecs will take 27 student-athletes to the NJCAA National Championships held in South Plains, Texas, on May 15-17.
By MEGYN FITZGERALD
The Pima Community College track and field team claimed three Region I titles on May 1 at Mesa Community College.
Janie Featherstone jumped 5 feet, 5 inches to claim the women’s high jump regional championship. The finish improved her nationals-qualifying jump.
Alice Odu claimed the long jump title and earned a nationals spot with a 17-10 3/4.
Esther Estrada also earned a spot at nationals by winning the regional championship in the 10000-meter race with a time of 44 minutes, 8 seconds.
Kelsey Montano, Shelby Slocum, Heidi Lopez and Jamie Shrader improved their nationals-qualifying time in the 4×800 meter relay with a time of 9:31.8.
The regional tournament’s final day was May 3. Results were not available at press time, but will be posted at aztecpressonline.com.
During regional competition in Mesa on April 24, Pima snagged several first-place spots.
Sophomore Megan Wright scored first in both the javelin (31.64 meters) and high jump (4-11). She also placed second in the heptathlon with a score of 3,952.
Freshman Danielle Hawley took first place in both the shot put with a throw of 10.11 meters and the 800-meter race with a time of 2:32.67.
Freshman Jarell Betton took fifth place in the men’s decathlon with a score of 5,469.
More national qualifiers and personal bests highlighted Pima’s April 21 trip to the Beach Invitational in Long Beach, Calif.
The women’s 4×400 meter relay team of freshmen Rachel Blake, Slocum, Aly Haskell and sophomore Anaiz Zamorano qualified for nationals and achieved a personal best time of 4:01.91.
Zamorano also improved her time in the 400-hurdles with a 64.56 finish.
In the 3000-meter steeplechase, Montano improved her national-qualifying mark and achieved a personal best with a time of 11:40.93.
Lopez also achieved a personal best when she qualified in the 5000-meter race with a time of 18:56.1.
For the men, freshman David-Michael Scott ran a qualifying time of 15:37 in the 5000 meters
Meanwhile, fellow freshman Lucas Ruiz improved his time for the same race with a 15:09.2 effort.
The nationals will take place May 15-17 in South Plains, Texas.
By MEGYN FITZGERALD
The future looks bright for Pima Community College sophomore track and field star Alice Odu.
With nationally recognized long and triple jump abilities and a contagious personality, Odu is a shoe-in for the outdoor national championships.
“She’s a great person,” head coach Greg Wenneborg said. “The second you meet her, you like her.”
Previously a basketball player, Odu has been involved in track and field since the seventh grade. She continues to put unparalleled efforts into bettering her abilities.
“I’m just happy that a young lady like Alice, after working so hard, is seeing results,” Wenneborg said.
Even though she qualified for nationals on March 10 with a triple jump distance of 38-10 1/4, she isn’t slowing down.
A typical practice for Odu begins at 3:30 p.m. and doesn’t end until 7:30 p.m. Highlights include stretching, 70 sit-ups, 45 push-ups, 450 calf-raises, lots of running, an hour of jumping drills and a trip to the weight room.
She spends most of her time in the weight room doing squats. Since her freshman year, Odu has improved from being able to squat 135 pounds to squatting 265.
“During practice she always has a smile on her face unless she is running 250-meter repeats,” assistant coach Chad Harrison jokingly said. “Alice is a great kid. One that I enjoy coaching.”
It has become a post-competition tradition for Odu and Harrison to share a bag of beef jerky and talk about her jumps, how well she did and where she can improve.
Odu hopes to use her success at Pima, both in track and in the classroom, to transfer somewhere that will help her achieve her goal of becoming a pediatric nurse. She also hopes to move out of Tucson.
“I like Tucson and all my family lives in Tucson, but I would like to move to Dallas, Texas,” she said.
Odu is currently ranked 10th all-time in the long jump and fourth in the triple jump at Pima.
“I will miss her when she’s gone,” Harrison said. “She has done wonders for our track program.”
In her spare time, Odu enjoys reading, listening to R&B music and dancing.
“Well, I’m African, so I’m really good at African dance,” Odu said.
By MEGYN FITZGERALD
The Pima Community College track and field team ended its regular season with 13 women and 12 men qualified for nationals.
The Aztecs participated in the third and final ACCAC conference meet of the outdoor season at Mesa Community College on April 13.
In the five-way dual meet, the women finished the season with a record of 12-3.
Freshman Kami Humphrey qualified for nationals in the high jump with a leap of 5 feet, 3 inches.
Freshman Jania Featherstone took first place in the event with a jump of 5-7. Sophomore Anaiz Zamorano earned second place in the 400 hurdles with a time of 1 minute, 04.57 seconds.
The men finished the season with a record of 8-7.
Sophomore Antonio Jeter took second place in the triple jump with a leap of 47-6. Sophomore Justin Chambers finished second in the long jump with a jump of 22-5.
While competing in the Mesa Community College Classic Invitational on April 6, Pima athletes hit four more national qualifying marks and racked up two first-place finishes.
Freshman Lucas Ruiz finished first in the 1500-meter race with a time of 3:57.53. The team of freshmen Alfonso Avitla, Lance Ross, Patrick Yonas and sophomore Demitri Hayes took first in the 4×100 relay with a time of 42.08.
On April 6, while competing in the Mesa Community College Classic Invitational, Pima athletes hit four more national qualifying marks and racked up two first-place finishes.
Freshman Lucas Ruiz finished first in the 1500-meter race with a time of 3 minutes, 57.53 seconds. The team of freshmen Alfonso Avitla, Lance Ross, Patrick Yonas and sophomore Demitri Hayes took first in the 4×100 relay with a time of 42.08.
For the women, freshmen Heidi Lopez, Kelsey Montano and Jamie Shrader finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 1500-meter race, earning their qualifying marks in the event.
The Aztecs will travel to Cerritos, Calif., for the Beach Invitational on April 20 and 21.
By MEGYN FITZGERALD
The Pima Community College men’s and women’s track and field teams broke more school records at the final indoor meet of the season, the NJCAA Indoor National Championships in Charleston, Ill., on March 2-3.
The meet brought the number of records set this season to 11.
Both teams did well in the distance medley event.
The men’s team of freshmen Aren Maxwell, Adam Clawson, Lindon Claridge and Lucas Ruiz, finished in fourth place with a time of 10 minutes and 25.76 seconds.
Meanwhile, the women’s freshman team of Kelsey Montano, Aly Haskell, Shelby Slocum and Heidi Lopez set a Pima record with a time of 13:04.67.
Mario Portillo also set a Pima school record in the 5000-meter race with a time of 15:33.36.
Overall, the women finished in 18th place, while the men took 19th.
The Aztecs will compete again on March 10 at 10 a.m. when the first ACCAC conference meet comes to Pima’s West Campus.
March 10: ACCAC Conference Meet, PCC West Campus, 10 a.m.
March 16-17: Willie Williams Invitational, University of Arizona, 4 p.m./9 a.m.
By MEGYN FITZGERALD
The Pima Community College men’s and women’s track and field teams continued to produce national qualifying marks and break school records Feb. 17 and 18 at the Central Arizona Relays in Coolidge.
“If things come together like I hope they will, we’ll do great at nationals,” head coach Greg Wenneborg said. “We already have multiple qualifiers.”
Sophomore Jodine Steemers set a new school record in the 3000-meter race when she finished with a time of 11 minutes, 14.42 seconds.
Freshman Kelsey Montano also set a new school record in the 1000-meter run with a time of 3:12.87, earning her a national championship qualifying mark.
Sophomore Anaiz Zamorano took second place in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:06.39, a personal best.
Sophomore Christopher Howard secured his top-10 spot in the shot put national rankings with a throw of 49-5 3/4.
In the 3000-meter race, freshman Lucas Ruiz and sophomore Mario Portillo both produced national qualifying marks for their finishing times of 8:49.57 seconds and 8:51.13, respectively.
The teams set three new school records at the Glendale CC Indoor Invitational on Feb. 11.
Ruiz won the 800 and 1500-meter races, setting a new Pima record with his time of 4:02.1 in the 1,500.
Sophomore Alice Odu was undefeated in the long jump until Feb. 18. Although she came in second, she set a new season-best with a distance of 17-7. Freshman Aly Haskell finished second in the 200-meter race, breaking a Pima record set in 2001 by Yulianna Perez.
“I’m always nervous to race,” Haskell said. “It can be scary.”
With his triple jump of 49-8, freshman Antonio Jeeter set a Pima record for second farthest jump.
Both men’s and women’s 4×800 relay squads qualified for nationals.
The men’s team consisted of Ruiz, freshmen Lindon Claridge, Adam Clawson and sophomore Humberto Bravo, while freshmen Kelsey Montano, Shelby Slocum, Mary Cozby and sophomore Heidi Lopez competed for the women.
“I just hope we’re not peaking too early,” Clawson said with a nervous laugh.
By MYLO ERICKSON
The Olympics had tryouts in Houston for the marathon on Saturday, Jan. 14. There were about 156 men racing on a 26.2 mile course, and only the top three qualified for the team.
Craig Curley is from Kinlichee, a Navajo reservation in northeast Arizona. He also happens to be a Pima Community College alumnus.
Curley also holds the PCC school record in the 5,000-meter run, which he completed in 14 minutes, 21.03 seconds.
Curley qualified to compete in the Houston tryouts by running in a half-marathon championship in 2010. He ran it in one hour, 4 minutes and 14 seconds.
Curley and his coach, Greg Wenneborg, who is the head coach for PCC’s cross country and track and field teams.
The two of them were fairly confident about Curley’s chances going into the race.
“He’s here to make the team,” Wenneborg said the Friday before the race.
Wenneborg felt Curley’s biggest challenge would be to hold back and not try to run and get into the lead right away.
However, they were still being realistic about Curley’s chances, as he has never run in a marathon before and that distance can present numerous problems for any runner.
“If nothing else, we’re hoping for at least a top-five or top-10 finish,” Wenneborg said.
Curley has spent the past year training for the race in Houston and fully committed himself to trying to make the 2012 U.S. Olympic marathon team.
The day before the race Curley spent his time relaxing and hanging out with the other athletes.
When it came time for the race to start that Saturday morning, only 120 runners took the line, instead of the projected 156.
Curley started out the race fairly strong, with his mile times ranging between 5:05 to 5:08.
This was the pace that both Wenneborg and Curley wanted to keep up, and Curley was in 50th place around the eight-mile mark.
Unfortunately, somewhere between the 20th and 23rd-mile marker, Curley began to struggle, as his energy steadily dissipated.
“It was an off day,” Wenneborg said.
Curley ended up finishing 84th, with a time of 2:39:53.
“Pretty shocking for him to finish as bad as he did,” Wenneborg said. “He’s handling it well.”
Only 85 of the 120 runners actually finished the race, as the distance took a toll on the athletes.
Curley ended up walking parts of the last two to three miles. Curley was also the youngest runner in the group, at 23.
Coming back home, the duo, are now thinking about their options for the future. They are going to take about a two-week break and then decide where they are going to go from there.
“It’s a humble beginning,” Wenneborg said.