The venue may have changed but the AZ Elite continued to perform at a high level at the Great Southwest Classic.

The AZ Elite, made up of mostly Desert Vista and Ahwatukee Foothills middle school athletes, had a good weekend at the Albuquerque Convention Center in New Mexico.

The event featured athletes from Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma.

"For an early season meet most of our athletes hit marks to start the season at just about where they left off last season," AZ Elite and Desert Vista coach Cassandra Cline said. "That is what we were hoping to see."

The meet has been at Northern Arizona in recent years, but construction on the Walkup Skydome forced the meet to a new venue.

Because it is an out-of-season meet some of the athletes try events that are not their usual discipline.

It allows someone like Myles Boyns to attempt the triple jump and pull off an effort of 38 feet and 2 inches to finish third. He also set a personal record in the long jump with a leap of 19-6 to finish second.

"He had a great weekend," Cline said. "He never tried the triple jump in competition, and he pulled it off."

Another multiple placer was Jason Smith, who finished third in the 200 and second in the 400, despite the fact that he usually competes in the mid-distance race of 800.

"He showed some real speed and strength," Cline said. "He wants to do more of it after performing so well."

A personal best was set by Braxton Day, who produced a 6-2 leap in the high jump, while Keehayn Cook managed two top-three finishes in the 200 (second) and 400 (third).

These kinds of performances are the type that can provide a boost of confidence and lead to breakout seasons.

"This can serve as foundation of a fantastic season," Cline said. "Finish in top three there and all of a sudden it becomes the expectation."

It also gives the coaching staff a chance to see how the young athletes perform in tough situations. Freshman Colleen Henderson handled the situation well despite having mostly a cross country background.

She finished fourth in the 200 and second in the 55-meter run.

"It was a little overwhelming seeing (athletes) from different states at a big meet," Henderson said. "But once I started running it wasn't any different than any other race."

Cline said that type of realization is why AZ Elite makes the annual trip to the event.

"She showed a lot of aggression and a competitive nature," the coach said. "Colleen was put in a new situation and performed. It's all we can ask for at this point while giving us something to build on."

Other top performances included Prasanna Polite (400/5th, long jump/10th), Spencer Clason (1500/1st, 800/4th) and Alexa Homewood (100/1st, 200, 1st) of Kyrene Altadena Middle School.

"It will be interesting to see how some of them respond," Cline said. "And not just the ones who performed well. Hopefully the ones who came away disappointed will be driven to make up for it."

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