By pure numbers it was a down year for Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe at the state track meet, but maybe it was just a sign of the times.
With the new divisional format (from seven classifications down to four) and qualifying process (only four athletes allowed per event per school), this might be how it's going to be in the years to come.
The premium on depth isn't there as much as it is on top elite athletes grabbing as many placement points as possible.
"It made it a lot harder to get here," Desert Vista coach Chris Hanson said of the new divisional structure. "When you have so many more teams, it makes it more competitive."
The Desert Vista girls finished fourth in Division I team standings, but entered having hopes of finishing as high as second behind heavy favorite Chandler.
The Thunder had nine individuals or relay teams finish in the top eight, but only Yasmine Yacut and a couple of relay teams were able to crack the top four to grab the big points.
Yacut was the top performer for the Thunder as she defended her 800-meter state title with a time of 2 minutes and 14.31 seconds, finished fourth in the 1,600 run in 5:09.65 and was on both the 4x400 team that finished second and the 4x800 quad that took third.
Another multi-placer for the Thunder was senior Alisha Maxwell, who was on the 4x400 team and finished seventh in the 400 with a time of 59.97 seconds.
Desert Vista had some missed opportunities as well as senior Kadie McNamara came in seeded second in the discus and didn't place. Senior Julia Kline finished third in the 100 hurdles last year but a foot injury slowed her to an eighth-place finish.
The most surprising is the fact that the girl pole vaulters didn't have a single placer after dominating the event in years past.
The Mountain Pointe girls had a solid day as all of their individual placers will be back next year.
Sophomore Kevina Godfrey was eighth in the 200 with a time of 25.46 and sophomore Katelin Warren was third in the 800 with a time of 2:16.69.
The Pride managed to place in all three relay events as they were third in the 4x100, seventh in the 4x800 and eighth in the 4x400.
The Mountain Pointe boys really struggled as Ben Trotter was the only athlete to place as the junior finished sixth in the 100 in 10.93 seconds. The team was hampered by the suspension of Travonn White (the state's top long jumper) and a football injury that kept senior Brandon Trotter out all season.
The Desert Vista boys left a bigger imprint to say the least but again the Thunder athletes finished in the second half of the placing points.
The performances in previous years when the field was taken from about 30 schools might have jumped into the top four but against 60 some schools per division the margin for error is much less.
Senior Riley Pendergast came in ranked No. 2 in the discus but didn't reach his normal level of production and dropped to fifth with a distance of 160-11.
"I'm semi-pleased," Pendergast said. "I was expecting a little more, but it was still a good performance."
His throwing buddy, Spencer Schumacher, finished eighth with a toss of 158-01.
Senior Edmond Baker came in as the top seed in the high jump at 6-10, but a bad hamstring never let him get close to that number and he finished fourth with a jump of 6-4.
All but one of the remaining Desert Vista scoring athletes are underclassmen, giving the Thunder plenty of talent coming back next year.
Sophomore Jarek Hilgers finished fourth in the long jump with an effort of 21-11, while the pole vault event saw two Thunder athletes - sophomore Adam Puchi (14-06, fourth) and junior Matt Arsenau (14-0, tied for sixth) - pick up points.
The youth movement by the Thunder, which had its 4x800 team finish fourth, continued with sophomore Carter Macey finishing fifth in the 3,200 in a time of 9:36.31.
Senior Eric Hernandez rounded out the Desert Vista placers as he finished fifth in the 300 hurdles.
Daniel Kemp contributed to this story.
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