A taste of California is coming to Chandler.
This might be the 73rd Annual Chandler Rotary Invitational, but there hasn’t been anything like it.
Stealing the format used at the Arcadia Invitational, near Los Angeles, and other national events, the Rotary will actually be three meets in one.
And it isn’t a team-scoring event so the athletes will be free to compete in several events without the coaches worrying about where it might leave them in the standings.
“I’m excited Chandler has gone to this format,” Desert Vista boys coach Chris Hanson said. “It will make this meet that much more special. It’s certainly the best in Arizona and this is going to take it to a new level. Having been involved in the Arcadia meet for the last decade, this is the best platform in Arizona to do that.
“All classes aside, all teams aside, it is the best of the best competing against each other.”
The event starts Friday with the open division, moves on to the seeded event on Saturday morning, and the main event comes Saturday night when the elite event starts at 4:30.
“Everybody is looking forward to it,” Mountain Pointe coach Jeff Griffin said. “It is about the individuals and coaches can spread some people out instead of worrying about the team aspect. It’s going to be a show.”
The new format provides a little something for everyone. The younger, less accomplished athletes don’t have to worry about toeing the line against someone who can beat them at three-quarters speed and the elite athletes know if they don’t bring their best the person next to them will make sure they pay for it.
“When I am against top competition it makes me better,” said Mountain Pointe sophomore Paul Lucas, who has the nation’s fastest 100 dash time at 10.68 seconds. “If we win here (as a team) we can win anywhere. That’s what we are concentrating on right now.”
The area will be well represented in the elite meet and those athletes know this is the best meet and largest (99 teams) in the state.
There are no divisions separating anyone, there is no letup in talent, and winning an event here means a star is either born or shining brighter than ever.
“It’s going to be a great competition,” said Thunder senior Dylan Fischer, who is top-seeded athlete in the shot put and discus. “It’s one of those meets where you can really establish yourself and the person to beat and that’s what everyone wants to do.”
Mountain Pointe will be without sprinter and state champion long jumper Travonn White, but budding star Lucas will be the Pride athlete everyone will be looking to pick up the slack as he has already posted long jumps of about 22 feet despite doing it only a few times.
He won’t compete in the 400 where he holds the school record, but will take a shot in the 100 and 200.
Other top Pride competitors are Kevina Godfrey (sprints, jumps), Rees Young (long and triple jump) on the girls side, and Kejavon Moore (sprints) and Ryan Green (discus) are among the boys, along with many more.
Desert Vista has Danielle Jones (1600, 800), Nicole Hicks (1600), Octobria Sadler (400), Shannon Fritz (high jump), Carly Sokol (hurdles), Vanessa Davis (pole vault) among the top girls, while Jon Frost-Dixon (400), Scott Marshall (pole vault), and Ryan Dykstra (distance) are some of the top boys.
They’ll get their chance to prove just how elite they are on Saturday night.
“We are ready to go,” Desert Vista girls coach Cassandra Kline said. “We’ve been training hard during spring break. This is where you want to be at your best and we’re looking for some big things.”
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