Dad might have had an ulterior motive with his daughter about to move five states away, but that doesn’t matter now.
Makenzi Holmes-Digiovine struggled in her signature event — the discus — for the most part this track season. The Desert Vista senior lost her release point and most of her attempts this year were out of the sector.
As the defending Division I state champion and Auburn recruit, the results were just not what she expected this season.
So on Saturday, four days before the start of the state meet, Holmes-Digiovine and her dad, Victor, were all by themselves at the southwest corner of the Desert Vista campus throwing the discus.
The plan was to stay until she was able to get five throws within the sector. Two-and-a-half hours and 58 throws later, the session ended.
“It’s bittersweet because it was one of the last times we worked together before she leaves (for Auburn),” Victor said. “We could not be more proud. She put herself here. She is a self motivator.”
The extra worked because Holmes-Digiovine parlayed it into another state title on Wednesday when she won the event on her second-to-last throw.
Holmes-Digiovine was tied with Xavier’s Erin Fakler for the lead at 135 feet and 11 inches entering her final two attempts before she led an effort of 142-09 fly.
Her state title performance was one of many success stories from this state track weekend, but Saturday’s results were unavailable for this edition. Check out www.ahwatukee.com/sports for the full results.
“It means everything because even though I had a tough season my hard work paid off,” said Holmes-Digiovine, who was also expected to place in the shot put on Saturday. “God was with me. I never felt that more than (Wednesday).”
Another insight into Holmes-Digiovine’s path to being champion came while watching her mingle with her fellow competitors including Mountain Pointe freshman Kayleigh Conlon, who finished fifth with a toss of 117-03, which was about 14 feet further than her previous best mark.
“She came up to me and said, ‘You got it,’” Conlon said. “It meant a lot. It showed me I belonged and I had support.”
Holmes-Digiovine hugged competitors from Chandler and congratulated throwers from Red Mountain and Desert Ridge. It is something she remembered then-Thunder senior Kadie McNamara did for her when she was a freshman finishing fifth.
“It’s good to have that support,” Holmes-Digiovine said. “I aspired to be that mother figure. I had Kadie my freshman year and it really made a difference.”
Conlon saw a difference on Wednesday as well considering she came in as one of the lower seeds only to blow past most of the competitors with a personal record in the finals to finish fifth.
“We’ve been working on a lot of stuff in practice,” she said. “It all came together.”
The discus sector was hardly the only place where area athletes had success when the Division I state meet started on Wednesday.
Mountain Pointe’s Morgan Green finished eighth in the girls high jump at 5-02.
The Thunder’s Jakob Alme finished second in the pole vault at 15 feet behind Hamilton’s Connor Stevens (15-03), while sophomore Connor Watson finished fourth in the triple jump at 46-03.25.
Desert Vista senior Jarell Lister finished fifth in the shot put at 50-02 and Ben Davis finished third in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 4:23.70.
Desert Vista senior Damali Britton finished fifth in the long jump with a personal best leap of 17-05.5 and sophomore Shannon Fritz finished tied for sixth in the high jump at 5-02.
The Desert Vista girls 4x800 relay team posted the third best time in Arizona history, but only finished second as Highland posted the second best time of all time at 9 minutes and :03.90 seconds, while the Thunder finished at 9:03.94.
The Thunder’s group was sophomore Mason Swenson, freshman Baylee Jones, junior Dani Jones, and freshman Mandy Davis.
The quartet was back at it in the 3,200 as they all finished in the top five as Dani Jones defended her state title with a time of 10:34.16, while Baylee was second at 10:45.32 and Swenson was third at 10:56.84. Only Mesquite’s Alice Jensen, who finished fourth, kept it from being a clean sweep as Davis finished fifth at 11:01.10.
“They put it all out, so as a coach what else can you ask of them?” Thunder girls coach Cassandra Cline-McKenzie said. “You can’t. I’m proud of them.
“All four of them are returning (next) year so we have something to look forward to as we build off of this.”
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