The track season has begun in earnest, but who will earn the top spots on the podium at the end of the year is far from being known.

Sure, there are favorites in most events but injuries, upsets and breakout seasons can change that in a hurry.

Where does it leave area programs? If form holds true, they will finish near the top.

The Desert Vista program is expected to continue its run of excellence and will be ready to compete in the end.

The Thunder are coming off another double top five finish as the boys were fourth at state last year and the girls were fifth.

Most programs would be ecstatic, but it serves as motivation for the Thunder.

The boys squad will have several dynamic pole vaulters led by Adam Puchi and Scott Marshall. The top throwers will be Dylan Fischer, Ryan Hawkinson and Jordan Rezac, while the top athletes in jump events will be Braxton Day and Myles Boyns.

The speed threats will come from Taylor Lang and Randy Seem in the hurdles, while Jarek Hilgers, Kaleb Germinaro, Richard Haywood and Keeyhan Cook will be relied on in the sprint events. The distance runners will be led by Carter Macey, Ryan Dykstra and Nick Kooinga.

“We are really looking forward to getting back to a highly competitive level this season,” boys coach Chris Hanson said.

The Thunder girls will be young, but the talent will always be there at Desert Vista.

Returning competitors include field event athletes Vanessa Davis, Carly Sokol and MaKenzie Holmes-DiGiovine. The running events could be dominated by four freshmen: Danielle Jones, Tessa Davis, Octobria Saddler and Alexa Homewood.

“I have a very young team this year and will be building around them,” girls coach Cassandra Cline said. “Last year a large number of our top girl athletes graduated, and now it’s time to plan for this year with our young team, and we just got our soccer and basketball girls out.

“This is one of our larger girl squads with a lot of talent.”

Mountain Pointe brings back seven state qualifiers from a year ago with the hope that all place in the top eight to push the Pride into contention at the end of the year.

It starts with senior sprinter Ben Trotter, who had a great preseason event at the Great Southwest Invitational in New Mexico by winning two events, and continues on the boys side with junior Travon White, who had one of the state’s top long jump efforts last year before being suspended for state meet, and senior distance runner Jalen Armstong.

The Pride girls will be led by junior sprinter Kevina Godfrey, junior distance runner Katelin Warren, senior hurdler/sprinter Shaman Bailey and thrower Hannah DeMarr.

Mountain Pointe finished ninth in the girls state meet last season, but 35th in the boys meet was out of character.

Much more is expected this year from the Pride.

“We have a number of quality athletes in each event, but you are never as deep as you’d like to be,” Pride coach Jeff Griffin said. “As always, we look for individual improvement in our athletes and hope that transfers over to a quality team finish at the state meet.”

Horizon Honors, which finished fourth in the Division IV girls state event and seventh in the boys last season, lost a boatload of talent but it’s not a barren ship.

“We have a great group of returning track-athletes, already moving in the right direction, setting goals and striving for excellence,” fifth-year coach Lura Beets said. “The old track records are not safe.”

Leading the way for the Eagles on the boys side is hurdler/sprinter Matthew Drapkin, while most of the experience lands on the girls side of the team.

Sprinter Samantha Weeman, distance runners Mikaela Martin, who finished second in cross country, and Shaila Homan and hurdler/sprinter Arielle Santa Cruz will be the Eagles top competitors.

“I’m looking forward to an improved team over last year, with the addition of several first-time talented athletes coming from other school sports teams,” Beets said. “It’s going to be an exciting season.”

Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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