It is clear that Tessa Davis, Octobria Saddler, Alexa Homewood and Danielle Jones are fast, but the question is can they outrun the expectations?
The foursome are all freshmen on the Desert Vista track team and the school newspaper has already tabbed them as the “Dream Team.”
Their coach, Cassandra Cline, has openly talked about breaking the school record in the 4x400 relay and it doesn’t bother them in the least.
“We know we have a chance to be together for four years and really push each other,” Homewood said. “If coach thinks we can do it then there is no reason for us to not go for it.”
The record of 3 minutes and 55.45 - set by Katherine Lolli, Melissa Montano, Katie Richey and Alexis Welch - might be safe for now, but it is definitely within their grasp.
The quartet already posted a time of 4:05.50 entering Saturday’s Chandler Rotary Invitational when they won the Aztec Invitational on March 3.
“There is no doubt in my mind they can get there,” Cline said. “They’ve all run in national meets and they are already comfortable at this level. They will get (the record). Maybe not this year, but we have three more years to do it.”
Before getting the girls measured for cap and gowns, let’s take a look at what they are doing individually thus far in their initial campaign.
Jones, who ran cross country in the fall, has been impressive in the mid-distance runs as the team looks for some leaders in those events after junior Brittany Tretbar was lost for the season when she tore some ligaments in her foot while running in practice.
Jones posted the second best time in the 800 run (entering the Chandler Rotary) in Division I at 2:19.63 and the top time in the 1,600 at 5:12.
“She is so smooth and can run just about any (event),” Cline said. “Once she gets some more experience, gets a little stronger, then there is no telling how far she can go.”
Jones, who is the anchor on the 4x400, competed at events nationally as a junior competitor for the Arizona Cheetahs club team for years.
“It got me ready to compete right away,” she said, acknowledging her club experience has helped her make the transition to the high school level. “I couldn’t imagine coming to (Desert Vista) without that experience.”
Saddler is already nearing a sub-1 minute 400 as she clocked a 1:00.91 time at the Aztec Invite, while posting a 26.7 second time in the 200. Davis isn’t far behind in the 400 as her best posting so far has been 1:01.47.
Homewood has been pretty impressive already as she clocked a 26.44 time in the 200 and the fourth best time in Division I in the 400 at 59.22 seconds.
“I was surprised a little that I’ve done so well because my times are already what they were at the end of last year,” she said. “I thought I would beat those times, but not this early in the season.”
Cline entered the year knowing the girls team was going to be young, but she said the freshmen class — beyond the “Dream Team” — has been impressive.
“We have so much quality depth and it is because of these freshmen,” she said. “I’ve had depth before, but not like this. There are some older kids who aren’t happy that so many freshmen are pushing into top positions, but the top (athletes) are going to get their shot.
“It’s early and we are still figuring things out and trying people in different spots.”
Except of course in the 4x400, where those spots could very well be solidified for the next four years.
“I don’t think they have too much (pressure) on them already,” Cline said. “We talked to them about not getting big heads or letting too much (attention) get to them. As long as they keep running hard and improving, everything else will fall in place.”
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