Long-time Xavier Prep track and field coach Dave Van Sickle says that Arizona continues to develop into one of the best states for that sport.
Sickle’s Gators among those programs raising their level of competitiveness.
currently involved with its daily preseason workout regimen as it moves toward
its first meet of the season, on Feb. 27 against Gilbert Perry at the Brophy
finished eighth at last year’s Division I state meet, and Van Sickle figures
the team is capable of moving into the top five when the event returns to Mesa
Community College in early May.
one of the team’s strongest areas is its distance runners, who helped the Van
Sickle-coached cross-country team win the Division I state title last fall, its
first since 2012.
leaders are junior Mia Olsen and sophomore Jamie Stelnik, who finished fifth
and seventh, respectively among individual cross-country runners at state.
also have sophomore Sammy Braun, seniors Karina Hawkins, Helen Innes, Karina
Smith and Jose Venezia.
The focus of
Xavier’s middle distance likely will be on senior Johnnie Mitchell and junior
is bolstered by its relay teams. XCP finished third in the 4x800 and fourth in
would like to see a few of his sprinters make an impact in events that are
dominated by perennial contenders Chandler High, Chandler Hamilton and Phoenix
Desert Vista. Chandler has won three state titles and seven of the last eight.
As far as
top individual athletes are concerned, Van Sickle has the luxury of coaching
one of the top all-around girls in the state, senior Jada Sims. The coach says
she is capable of winning three or four individual events. She figures to have
a chance to win the high jump (second last year) and could challenge in the
100-meter hurdles (eighth) and long jump (17th). Sims also
flourished in a couple of heptathlons once the track season was completed last
stronger, more mature and has more of a sense of purpose,’’ said Van Sickle of
Sims, who will compete collegiately at Vanderbilt.
three athletes who have been participating in winter sports, and the coach
hopes he will be able to rely on them for assistance. They have a lot of speed,
is a recent addition to the state meet, and junior Kendall Swanson is a
candidate to rise on the final finish list.