Nobody had more success in the throwing events last season than Desert Vista, and early-season performances suggest that the Thunder track and field teams are strong again.
The DV boys won all three throwing events – javelin, discus and shot – in last year’s 6A state-championship meet. Seven performers placed in the top 10, earning 53 of the Thunder’s 115 points as they won the team title.
If the boys are to defend their title, they must do it with new faces leading the charge. Senior Kevin Fairchild is the lone defending individual throws champion. He ran away with last year’s javelin title.
Among those moving up is Jorden Morales, a junior, who threw a personal-best 168 feet in the discus at the Chandler Rotary Invitational on March 23.
The Thunder girls throwers also are strong. In last year’s state meet, four placed in the top 15 in the discus throw en route to a second-place team finish. Three of the four return, including Selena Nichols. She placed ninth in 2018, and already this spring is near her performance level of last May.
“We’re blessed to continually have these kids who want to throw for us and are talented,” said DV throws coach Dylan Rudolph. “We had some athletes, both boys and girls, that could have been competing at state that we just didn’t have enough spots for. We’re hoping that if we can get that again, or even more, we’ll be in pretty good shape.”
At meets, the throwers typically are separated by gender, but in practice they all work together. Nichols said they learn a lot in the group, discussing their throws.
“We talk about technique a lot together. When you have all these great throwers around it helps everyone to watch each other,” she said.
The teams give each other emotional support. This season, they hope to come home with two team championships.
“It kind of sounds bad, but us guys will give the girls a hard time about getting second last year,” Morales said. “It’s all really friendly, but I think it just motivates everyone to keep getting better.
“We’re all good friends and want to see each other do well.”
Fairchild said there is a fine line between striving to improve and placing too much pressure to perform and repeat as state champions.
“At a certain point, it stops being enjoyable if you take it too seriously and put all that pressure on yourself,” Fairchild said. “So, I know we just have to have fun with it. That way, we don’t have to be so tight, and we’ll hopefully do even better.”
Nichols agreed. Each athlete wants to improve but the goal is to enjoy the sport and the camaraderie.
“It would be great to win it this year because we were so close last time,” she said. “But, really, I just love throwing. We want to come out and have fun.”