2016 Track & Field Preview
Prep Track & Field: Bears alum-turned newly hired coach enters spring with 100-plus athletes
PRESCOTT VALLEY - There's a new, yet familiar face in charge of the Bradshaw Mountain High track and field team in 2016.
Former Bears track and field, basketball and football star Jason Shaver, who graduated from Bradshaw in 1993, has taken over as head coach of a Division II Bradshaw squad loaded with athletes.
Shaver said the team's roster has ballooned from 40 athletes in 2015 to 110 this year.
Shaver steps in for veteran lead mentor Mike Simon, who will stay on as an assistant coach of Shaver's for the distance runners. Assistant Jonathan Crawford, a 1995 Bradshaw alum, handles the sprinters.
Bradshaw Mountain opens the 2016 season at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 2, when the team plays host to Flagstaff and Coconino at Bob Pavlich Field in Prescott Valley. The Bears have a difficult schedule, one that includes battling several higher-enrollment D-I schools.
"With all these kids that we've been working with right now, we've been concentrating on sprint workouts, all the way to about 600 meters," said Shaver, who spent the past 10 years coaching the Phoenix Bobcats, a Club track and field team. "So we're building the endurance and fast-twitch muscle."
This spring, the Bears' boys should be the most competitive in the sprints and distance events, as well as the 4x100-meter and 4x400m relays, the hurdles and the throws.
In the relays, the 2015 D-II state-qualifying 4x400m team returns three of its four runners in Justin Castro, J.P. Renteria and Abe Hernandez. After finishing eighth in the state prelims, the Bears finished seventh in the finals in 3 minutes and 27.89 seconds.
Senior Alex Villagran, runner-up in the 2015 Yavapai County Cross-Country Championships, advanced to state in the 800m run last spring and hopes to break the school record in the event this season. Last year, after recording a seed time of 2 minutes and 2.02 seconds, Alex took 16th in the state finals in 2:01.62. Alex's brother, junior returnee David Villagran, will continue to push him in the distance runs.
Senior sprinter Castro qualified for state in the 400m dash, taking 11th in the prelims in 51.12 seconds. David Otero, another senior, is back to run the 110m hurdles. He finished 18th in the state prelims last year in 16:39, despite posting a seed time and personal best of 15.77 seconds. Shaver said he wants Otero to shoot for the low-15 seconds in the 110 hurdles to qualify for state again.
The coach added that Adolfo Mendoza will likely focus on running the 110s this season, too, and probably some in the 300m hurdles.
In the throws, senior Zach Latham enters his first year as a thrower in the shot put. He's aiming for 55 feet and a possible state qualification.
Ryan Shaver, Jason's son, is a state-qualifying discus thrower and may be on pace to break his dad's school record in the event. Ryan has reached 150 feet with the discus, although Jason's record from 1993 is a hefty 167 feet, 10 inches. Ryan also throws the shot put.
"It's going to be kind of neat to coach my own kid to [try and] break my own record," Ryan said.
On the girls' side, the state-qualifying 4x100m relay team that finished 12th in the 2015 prelims should return mostly intact with Elah Alvis, Rachel Campbell and Julianna Schuchard. But a huge piece, Courtney Parsell, will not be back after suffering a season-ending ankle injury during the soccer season in December.
Individually for the boys, keep an eye on Castro and Renteria in the 100m, 200m and possibly in the 400m. Junior Abe Hernandez is looking to break the 22-second barrier in the 200m, coach Shaver said. Freshman Charles Nnantah will race in the 100, 200 and 400m, and possibly in some of the relays.
In the jumps, Dillon Wallace hopes to push 6 feet in the high jump and will also do the triple jump. Jordan Miner wants to break 21 feet in the long jump and will join Wallace as a triple jumper.
For the girls, senior runner Alicia Cornejo returns, but she will switch to the 100m and 200m this spring instead of running the 800m, which she did in 2015.
"She's looking really quick out there for the 1's and 2's," coach Shaver said of Cornejo.
Up-and-coming freshman Ana Zea, who placed third at the 2015 Yavapai County Cross-Country Championships, should be solid in the distance runs. Schuchard and Sarah Willer are others to watch. Speedy freshmen Genai Wilson and Makenzie Morris will run the 100, 200 and 400m.
In the jumps, returnee Kyra McNeil intends to push 5 feet, 2 inches in the high jump. In the throws, Samantha Kibler should stand out in the shot put.
As for the hurdles, the seasoned Hannah Madler returns in those events, along with newcomer Bailey Rozendaal in the 300m hurdles.
"Bailey's really looking good," coach Shaver said. "She's got some good speed."