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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : sports : local September 30, 2016

3/30/2014 12:33:00 PM
Athletes impressing with top marks in division and state
Justine Taylor crosses the finish line of a relay race. VVN/Travis Guy
Justine Taylor crosses the finish line of a relay race. VVN/Travis Guy
Camp Verde's Alyssa Watkins hurls the discus. VVN/Travis Guy
Camp Verde's Alyssa Watkins hurls the discus. VVN/Travis Guy

Travis Guy
Sports Reporter

With teams either at or nearing the midway points of their respective seasons, many rankings and standings are beginning to trickle out. While some are being released this week (AIA baseball and softball rankings), others are out there for everyone to sit and analyze till the cows come home.

Lets begin with baseball. While the division rankings have not been released yet, there are stat leaders. The Marauders kicked off their season with rattling off 10 wins and one tie, going 17 days before tasting defeat. The first team to give Mingus a blemish was Evergreen High School, from Colorado. The loss happened at the Greenway Festival. The Marauders were given another loss from another Colorado team, 9-0 to Chatfield High School. With an overall record of 13-2-1, the Marauders have two members that have earned their spot in top-15 lists.

Junior pitcher Orlando Machado has rode his stout defense to the 13th best ERA in Arizona. Through 81 innings pitched, Machado has allowed one earned run against 67 batters for a .39 ERA. Joining him on a top-marks list is senior pitcher Marshall Shill. Shill has accrued the 12th most amount of wins (four) in Arizona while throwing two complete games.

On the other side of the freeway, Camp Verde's Tyler Dickey has the 17th best on base percentage in Arizona. The Cowboy's lone senior has a .657 OBP with 35 plate appearances and 16 hits with 28 at bats.

While no one from either the Mingus Union or Camp Verde softball teams are on any performance lists, the Camp Verde Cowboys and their 11-5 record overall (5-2 have them in second in Division-III, Section 4, behind Combs High School and is one of three S-4 teams that is undefeated in sectional play (Combs and Sedona Red Rock).

The Marauders softball team has not had the season that many thought they were going to have, and are 3-6 overall through nine games. Despite the rough start (the 2013 season was similar) it is hard to argue if one were to say that the girls have had their best week yet picking up wins over Kingman (21-0) and Flagstaff High Schools (3-2). With their 3-2 AIA record and 2-0 Division-II record, the Marauders are sitting in second in their section.

The Marauders boys' tennis team is 5-1 on the season and most recently picked up wins over Barry Goldwater High School and Northland Preparatory Academy. Riding the strength of a solid, well-rounded team that plays well in doubles, the Marauders have earned a No. 20 ranking in Division-III as they continue towards the goal of a team bid to the post season.

Camp Verde's track and field program is in the midst of a "rebuilding year." They lost a slew of athletes that were among the best in the state and are developing the young freshman into their stars of tomorrow. With that said, their throwers are among the best in the division. Junior Viola Logston has top-10 marks in both the shot put and discus. A 2013 state placer, Logston owns the second best throw in the shot put in Division-III with a distance of 36 feet 1 inch. She also owns the ninth best fling in the discus, 93 feet 2 inches. Logston's throwing teammate, sophomore Alyssa Watkins, is inches behind her in the discus with a throw of 92 feet 6 inches.

All of the top honors that have been earned so far are impressive. But what may be more impressive is how the Mingus track and field program is on the verge of becoming an elite program in both the boys and girls side. A total of 17 athletes have at least one top-10 mark in D-III, five have multiple marks and four have earned top-10 state marks.

Jumpers Blake Lundy (long jump), Kylie Streck (pole vault) and Allison Whitworth (high jump, pole vault) all are ranked. Whitworth is tied for seventh in the high jump with a jump of 4 feet 10 inches and sits in sixth in the pole vault with a height of 8 feet six inches.

The Marauders' sprinters and shorts-distance relay teams are where a bulk of the marks comes from. Ryan Talbot (100, 200 and 400), Justine Taylor (400), Dakota Hanks (400) and relay teams (boys 4X100 and 4X400, girls 4X400) are primed to do well in the post season. Of Talbot's three marks, his best is in the 400. With a season's best time of 49.98, Talbot has the second best 400 time in D-III and eighth best in the state. His 200 time of 22.62 is the third best in the division.

Taylor holds the top time in the 400 (60.25) in D-III but is still two seconds off cracking into the top-10 of the state. Dakota Hanks has been impressive so far with his 400 time of 51.56 being the sixth best in D-III.

The short-distance relay teams are just as impressive because many of the athletes that have top times in state are also on the teams. The boys' 4X100 tem owns the fifth best time, 44.65, and the 4X400 team sits in seventh with a time of 3:37.00. The girls 4X400 team had the eight best time in D-III, 4:28.29, but following the Millennium meet on March 28, the girls brought home a time of 4:23, which will move them either the No. 4 or 5 spot.

The lone hurdler to own a top-10 mark is freshman Brianna Epperson. Coming into the season with a wealth of experience, Epperson has parlayed that into the fifth best time in D-III in the 300-meter hurdles, 51.18.

Mingus' distance runners and distance relay teams are just as impressive as its shorter distance teams and runners. Freshman Rachel Valentine and senior Monica Soliz (in her first race of the year) own the eighth and fifth best times in D-III's 3,200-meter race. Jordan Bramblett, who should be joined soon by senior Gustavo Banks, owns two top-10 marks, the 1,600 (No. 7) and the 3,200 (No. 6).

The girls' 4X800 team owned a time of 11:10.77, but at the Millennium meet they demolished that time by over a minute with a D-III best of 10:08, also the No. 8 or 9 time in Arizona. Returning 1,600 state champion Megan Goettl owns two top-5 marks as well. She is currently No. 2 in the D-III 1,600 with a time of 5:24.38 and improved her 800 time at the Millennium meet by shaving two seconds off her 2:24.51 time, running 2:22, which should move her to the second best time in the D-III 800.

Two of Mingus' throwers, Levi Collins and Heather Calandra, own three top-10 marks between the two of them. Collins recently threw a PR of 42 feet 3 inches, landing him the sixth best throw in D-III.

For Calandra, the senior just cemented herself as one of the best throwers in the state (if she was not already considered one) after her showing at Millennium. Calandra already had the No. 1 shot put throw in D-III (41 feet 9.5 inches), which was No. 3 in Arizona, but at the meet on March 28 placed herself firmly in the conversation of best in the state with a toss of 43 feet 2 inches, tying her for No. 1 with Chandler's Bianca Finn. In the discus, Calandra holds the second best throw with a distance of 108 feet 4 inches.

With about a month and a half left in the spring season, many teams are positioning themselves to make a post season run while others are looking to salvage their season. The track and field athletes are continuing to improve (especially Camp Verde's young crop of freshman) and could even sneak into the post season, with others are looking for that elusive state championship.

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