Whether he’s throwing a runner out at the plate or unleashing a throw that beats a defending state champion in a prestigious track meet, Alex Ramirez barely has time to tie his shoes as he does a spring two-sport shuffle at Mountain Pointe.
Ramirez spends most of his after-school time on the diamond as an outfielder on the Pride’s junior-varsity baseball team.
He also dabbles in the javelin throw, but his practice time for that is limited to weekends, under the watchful – and often critical – eye of his father, Juan.
“We fight a lot, but that’s OK,” said Juan, who coached track and field at Scottsdale Community College for five years, through 1998. “He’s a competitor. He likes to prove people wrong, in a way.”
In a way. At the Nike Chandler Rotary Invitational in March, one of the largest meets in the nation with more than 160 schools competing, Ramirez launched the javelin 195 feet, 3 inches. He won and he’s now the sixth-ranked javelin thrower in the nation and tops in Arizona. The field included Kevin Fairchild, the defending big-school state champ in the event, of rival Desert Vista, whose second-place toss was 10 feet behind Ramirez.
But there’s more to the story. Ramirez was battling back from hamstring and shoulder-blade injuries that limited him for five months.
“I hadn’t thrown in a meet since June, so I was rested,” Ramirez said.
And still more. When the Chandler Rotary heat sheets were released days ahead of the meet, Ramirez’s name wasn’t on them. A communications error left him unregistered for the Elite division. A phone call from Mountain Pointe track and field coach Larry Thomas coupled with a few strings pulled by Juan on the day of the meet got Ramirez into the field.
When Ramirez’s javelin pierced the turf on his winning toss, it was a spear through the hearts of the competition.
“There was a lot of anticipation when I waited for the judges to look at it,” Ramirez said. “When I heard 195 it surprised me. I even heard the crowd gasp.”
Ramirez’s love for the javelin throw began when he was 6. He was a long jumper when he saw his older brother, Aaron, throwing. He wanted to give it a try, too.
Aaron won state and national titles in the javelin throw representing Mountain Pointe at the club level. Javelin wasn’t offered as an Arizona Interscholastic Association sanctioned event back then. It was introduced last year. Aaron graduated in 2016.
Following in his brother’s footsteps, Alex won an age-group national title of his own at the USA Track and Field Championships in 2012.
His performance at the Chandler Rotary renewed his excitement about the throw. He now has his sights set on the Sun Angel Classic at Arizona State on April 5, followed by a few others before the big-school state meet in early May.
“I can’t take my foot off the pedal,” Ramirez said. “I need to keep going and keep putting pressure on everyone else.”
Ramirez, a junior, is hopeful of receiving a track and field scholarship at the Division I level, but he still regards himself as a baseball player, too. He said his goal is to earn a varsity roster spot with the Pride, whether it’s later this season or next.
“Anytime you can have an athlete that goes out and performs, you are proud of him,” Thomas said. “He’s a phenomenal young man.”
Thomas was hired to take over the Pride track and field program on Jan. 18 – two weeks before the season began – after four years at the helm at Copper Canyon.
Haila Reed, a junior, has emerged as a leader on the Pride girls team. Reed competed in track and field as a child, following in the footsteps of her sister, Autumn, who now competes at Hampton University in Virginia.
Reed was ranked in the top 10 of the state after a 32-foot, 11 1/4-inch triple jump at the Brophy Prep AMDG Invitational on March 7. She remains in the top 20. Reed also is a sprinter and competes in the short relays.
“I want to jump at least a 38 this year,” Reed said. “That’s four feet more than my (personal best), so that’s a lot.”
On the boys team, senior Jakoby Griffin, coming off an ACL injury suffered in spring football last year, had a 43-foot, 8-inch triple jump at Brophy, seventh-longest in the state. His 21-foot, 3¾-inch long jump ranks among the state’s top 20 performances. Griffin also is a sprinter. His biggest goal is to stay healthy en route to qualifying for state.
Griffin received a scholarship offer in track and field from Waldorf University, an NAIA school in Iowa. He is hoping for more offers as the season progresses.
Junior distance runner Alexander Graham ran a 4:32.24 in the 1,600 meters at Chandler Rotary and could be a threat to score points in the state meet for the Pride.