|Senior Amanda Showers jumps the hurdles during a recent meet. Amanda will be competing in the 100 and 300-meter hurdle races and the triple jump at the state tournament.. VVN/Travis Guy|
All season long the Camp Verde Cowboys track and field program had ran, jumped and thrown their way through events with each student hoping to hit that special mark that grants them access to the state track meet.
For nine Cowboys, that goal was reached and they will be heading to the meet to ply their talent amongst the rest of the best in Division-III. Justin Reay, Amanda Showers, Donnie Buss, Katie Wilson, Viola Logston and the girls' 4X800-meter relay team will be the lone Camp Verde students making that trek.
For Justin, he will be racing in the 400 and 800-meter races. The senior had qualified for the 100 and 200 as well, but his times in the longer races were some of the best in the state, helping him make his decision.
"After I ran that 800 and was ranked No. 1, there was no way I couldn't put one aside knowing I could get first," Justin said. "After that, and realizing that I was ranked No. 1 and No. 2 pretty much confirmed that no matter what its going to take, I'm going to run both of them, because I'm ranked so high."
All season long, save for one race, Justin has come in second to Mingus Union's Ryan Talbot, always being a few tenths of a second behind the Marauder, and knows that this race is going to come down to who wants it more and who has the heart to push through to the end.
"It all comes down to heart, having more, who's going to want it in the end," Justin said. "We both are tenths of a second off each other. I just have to remember to come out strong don't go out too slow. Come out strong, and that last stretch, when it's hurting, I have to make sure my form is right. Honestly, when it comes down to it, the guy with better form is going to win it. I have to make sure I'm running strong, good form and give it all I got."
Justin will also be running in the 800-meter race. This is a race he has only ran three times this season, but the second time he ran it, at the third meet at Sedona Red Rock High School, was one of the most thrilling races this season. That race had three of the top runners in D-III in Justin, Ryan and Travis Okie. While Ryan will not be running in the 800, Justin and Travis will rematch.
During that exciting race, Justin set the new D-III mark at 1:55.60, .06 seconds faster than the previous mark that was set by Travis. The Sedona Red Rock athlete set the previous time of April 6, but since then has not ran below 1:56, only flirting with it in the race against Justin and Ryan.
Going into the race, Justin will be looking to employ the same strategy as before, follow the main pack for the majority of the race and give one final kick the last leg, and because he is a sprinter running against distance runners, he believes he will be able to accomplish the same feat again.
"Definitely being a sprinter will help. I even talked to my coach in college and he was saying the same thing," Justin said. "I didn't even tell him I was going to run. He said 'your strategy should be 600 and then you're faster than everyone so you should sprint the 200,' so he said exactly what I'm going to do."
While the boys' squad only has one member representing them, the girls have two jumpers, Amanda and Donnie, two throwers, Katie and Viola, and a relay team.
Of the seven meets that Donnie has done the high jump in, the first six had her hitting 4 feet, 10 inches. In the last regular meet of the season at the Snowflake Invitational, the senior finally broke that height by one inch. In the 300-meter hurdle, Donnie ran a 50.65, her best time of the season, but not the best of her career at Camp Verde. That time came during her junior season when she ran the 300-meter hurdles in 47.43.
Fellow hurdler and jumper Amanda will be competing with Donnie in the 300-meter hurdles, but will also be running and jumping in the 100-meter hurdles and the triple jump.
Amanda was running in the low 17's for most of the season, but the last two meets she has been able to drop under 17 seconds, most recently completing the race 16.65 at the Snowflake Invitational. She has also seen a drop in her times in the 300 hurdles over the last few events as well. Of the three events Amanda will be running and jumping in, the senior has placed in the top-3 of all those events over the course of the season at different meets.
At the 2012 state meet thrower Katie Wilson was not able to handle the mental pressure and had a less than desirable showing. Through the 2013 season, the senior has been working through the mental game to make sure that does not happen this year.
"I'm a little nervous," Katie said. "I mean, my nightmares are forming again, like they were last year, but I'm just trying to focus on not thinking about it and at this point have fun. I know that if I try to be too competitive, I might fall apart. I still want to get on the podium, but I just want to have fun ... I'm just [doing] a lot of visualizing, imagining myself throwing and I'm hoping that I won't do what I did last year."
The senior has been able to stay consistent to a point this season. She groups together similar distances, but the groups can vary. In the shot put, Katie had a group of three meets during the middle of the season where she threw over 32 feet. That is sandwiched by four meets where she threw for just over 30 feet, with the last two meets being three inches shy of 31 feet. The discus is where Katie has established herself as one of the top-5 throwers in D-III. Since April 23, the senior's last four distances are all better than the bottom-5 distances in the division. April 23, Katie threw for 111 feet, and while she has dropped off a bit, she has still thrown for 107 feet in her last two meets.
"I was expecting to PR, because the last few years I've PRed tremendously at my very last meet, not including state," Katie said. "I was hoping to PR, and was pretty upset that I didn't, and I'm still pretty upset that I haven't beaten my record yet, but I almost got there, but I didn't. It's a little discouraging, but I'm hoping at state I can break it."
In only her second season at Camp Verde, Viola is beginning to establish herself as one thrower to watch in the coming years. As a sophomore, she already has the seventh best distance in the shot put in D-III, 34 feet, 3.5 inches, and is 6 feet, 2 inches shy of the 10th best discus distance. Viola has been throwing the disc in the low-to-high 80's and only once did she break 90 feet, when she threw 97 feet, 9 inches in her second meet of the season.
The last group of Cowboys that will be making the venture down to Mesa are Mayla Truncalli, Talliana Wallner, Shelby Monroe and Madeline Showers, as the Camp Verde 4X800-meter relay team. The girls' times have been varied and they have not run that many races together, but the experience and having fun is what is most important to them.
"For the 4X8, we just hope to go out there and have a good last run," Mayla said. "We probably wont make it super far in that, but in the 4X4 we hope to bring our time down so we can run again the next day."
To help get her and her teammates to the next day, Mayla is using visualization to help give her confidence.
"Not only visualizing how I'm going to do, but not trying to say 'oh your going to do bad.' Sometime when I look at other times I get discouraged by all the other times, so I'm like, 'you can do it,' and try not to beat myself down."
The state track and field meet begins on May 10 at 1:15 p.m. and continues the following day at 1 p.m. at Mesa Community College.