There are times when the most satisfying part of a meal is the appetizer.
It is hard to tell what is ahead for Desert Vista when the meat of the state event is held Saturday, but it is going to be difficult to surpass what the Thunder served up to start on Wednesday.
Desert Vista had three individuals win four state champions along with several other Thunder competitors finding their way to the podium.
Sophomore Dani Jones won the 800 in 2 minutes and 12.08 seconds and 1600 in 4:51 (fifth fastest time in Arizona history) at Mesa Community College partly because she is a year wiser than when she came into the event highly touted as a freshman.
A year ago Jones finished third in the 800 and fourth in the 1600 with performances a tick off her usual times.
“Last year I put too much pressure on myself, even as a freshman,” she said. “This year it was all about having fun and it seemed to help me out.”
In both events she wasn’t the front runner, and in the 1600 she didn’t take the best route to pass those in front, but had enough at the end to pull off the double victory.
“I was behind, but I knew I had a lot left,” she said. “I was able to use that last kick and finish strong.”
The Thunder had plenty of young athletes performing well as sophomore Vanessa Davis won the pole vault after clearing 12 feet, while freshman Aliya Simpson was third after clearing 11-9.
Neither was pleased with their final clearing height — Davis wanted 13 and Simpson was expecting at least 12 feet — and tried not let it sour their accomplishment, but it was clear they were disappointed.
“We don’t talk about winning state titles,” Thunder pole vault coach Jeff Guy said. “We talk about getting to certain (heights) because what if Vanessa does get personal best of 13 and someone else pops off a 13-1? Just do your best and see where you stand.”
Well, on this day, their best was good enough to come home with the gold and bronze.
“I wanted to go 13 this season and I’ve been doing 12-6 so it’s like when am I going to get it,” Davis said. “I am happy because I’ve been more consistent this year. I only made it over 12 three times last year and I’ve done it just about every time this year. I have a few more meets to get it done.”
Simpson, who owns the freshmen state record at 12-1, is the third of three sisters, which is anything but easy with the success they’ve had, to come through the program. It is clear she is on a path of her own even though others will automatically place expectations.
“I was getting tired and I wanted to give it my all and it felt good, but I didn’t get it,” Simpson said of her last attempt at 12. “I had a good freshman year and it’s something I can build on.”
The other state title came in the boys discus as senior Dylan Fischer came in as the top seed and brought it home with a throw of 181-08, while junior Jordan Rezac finished fourth with his personal best toss of 169-06.
“It felt great to finally get it,” said Fischer, who didn’t place last year after coming in as the No. 1. “I worked hard and it came together. Now, I can focus on the shot put and try to get another.”
Mountain Pointe’s big day is expected to come Saturday after several impressive showings in the preliminaries that were run on Wednesday, but the Pride had one disappointment when defending state champion Travonn White finished third in the long jump with an effort of 22-10.
“I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been,” said White, who qualified late in the season because of off field issues. “It was a lesson learned. Not every day can be your day, but there will be more meets when it will be.”
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