In a meet defined by shattered records, it was host-Chandler's two squads that ended the 72nd Chandler Rotary Invitational as the ultimate winner.
Featuring teams from as far away as Manitoba, the Chandler boys and girls track teams both took first place at the annual showcase for many of the region's top athletes.
“I'm never one to get excited and jump up and down, but we did fantastic,” Chandler girls coach Eric Richardson said.
Complete results from the Chandler Rotary
Richardson's squad took first by a large margin; finishing the meet with 155 points in spite of stiff competition from second-place finisher Long Beach Poly from California, which has one of the strongest track programs in the country as Chandler edged Long Beach Poly for national championship honors the past two seasons.
Many of Saturday's finals in the girls and boys races featured Chandler and Long Beach Poly racing against each other. In the 100-meter hurdles, for example, highly-rated Long Beach Poly's Traci Hicks pushed past Chandler juniors Sherrelle Jordan and Makailla Flannigan to take first in the second race of the day.
Such results justified Long Beach's inclusion in the meet for Richardson, who said the presence of the premier California team not only pushed his runners to perform their best, but provided the track team with a little more esteem.
“When you have a program such as Poly coming from California, it has some validity to your program; it show's we're on the right track,” Richardson said.
Also finishing in the top five in the girls portion were Xavier, Desert Vista and Tucson Salpointe Catholic, respectively.
Chandler's boys squad ended its side of the meet with a similarly lopsided victory; its 86.5 points easily bested fellow top-five finishers Mountain Pointe, Brophy, Cibola and Phoenix Sandra Day O'Connor, respectively.
Although the overall score didn't reflect it, Long Beach's boys team, which took 10th, also tested the Wolves in several events. The tightest result between the two was the 4X400 meter relay race that saw Chandler eke past Long Beach by less than a second while setting a new meet record.
While the Chandler teams were the overall winners, Saturday featured a slew of individual meet or state record-setting performances. Among the more notable individual performances was the 300-meter hurdle performance from Tucson Canyon Del Oro senior Jaide Stepter, who broke a 27-year-old record with her 42.18 seconds in the finals. That time came a week after her first attempt to break the mark fell short.
“I knew I wanted to do it here, so I did it,” she said.
Officials at the meet said Stepter's time also placed her first in the nation in the event, making her the second athlete at the Rotary to set a national mark. The first was Chandler's Jasmine Todd, whose 20-foot, 1/2-inch mark in the long jump pushed her to the top of the nation overall.
Todd also took second in the 100-meter dash – she finished just behind sophomore teammate Ky Westbrook – and first in the triple jump with what she said was a disappointing 39-foot, one and three-quarters inch leap.
“I'm please with what I did today, but there's always room to improve,” she said after her first outdoor meet of the season.
Stepter was named the meet's outstanding female track performer and Todd earned the outstanding field performer for their respective efforts.
On the boys side, Brophy junior Devon Allen accomplished his main goal for the meet by breaking the 32-year-old 110-meter hurdle state record with a 13.62 time.
“Once I didn't feel anyone, it's me going against time, it's me pushing myself,” he said.
Allen added his goal for the season is a 13.3 performance in the event.
It wasn't just the upperclassmen who had performances worth celebrating, as Desert Vista freshman Danielle Jones overcame several older runners to finish first in the 800-meter run with a 2:16:60 run in what turned out to be the largest meet she's ever run.
“I just have to think about not being a beginner,” she said.
The across-the-board success of the teams and runners during the last evening of the two-day event led Richardson to admire the talent display at Austin Field.
“It's a testament to what's going on in Arizona," he said. "It's competitive as hell.”