Desert Vista, Chandler lead pack on Day 1 of the Division I and II girls track state championships

Desert Vista, Chandler lead pack on Day 1 of the Division I and II girls track state championships

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Desert Vista, Chandler lead pack on Day 1 of the Division I and II girls track state championships

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Phoenix Desert Vista sophomore Danielle Jones enjoys flying under the radar.

But after Wednesday, those days are gone.

Jones cruised to victories in the 800 meter and 1,600 meter races, earning her first two individual Division I titles and propelling her center stage as one of the state’s elite runners at Day 1 of the Division I and II state championship meet at Mesa Community College.

“It’s nice being an underclassman because all the eyes aren’t on you,” Jones said. “But when you do compete well, they open wide.”

Jones won the 1,600 meters in 4 minutes, 51.17 seconds, the fifth fastest time in Arizona history. She finished the 800 meters in 2:12.08. She’ll run the 3,200 meters on Day 2 of the meet Saturday.

Desert Vista captured three individual titles Wednesday. Sophomore Vanessa Davis won the pole vault with a mark of 12 feet. But even with a strong early start, it will be tough for Desert Vista or any of the Division I teams, to catch seven-time defending champion Chandler. The team is led by Ky Westbrook, Sherrelle Jordan and Makaila Flannigan.

Westbrook won the shot put Wednesday with a mark of 45 feet, 21/4 inches and qualified in the top spots in the 100 meters and 200 meters. Westbrook broke the shot put state record earlier this season and plans to take aim at the 100 meter record this weekend.

“If that’s in my future, I hope it happens on Saturday,” she said.

In Division II, defending champions Tucson Salpointe Catholic are off to a strong start thanks to Alyssa Thompson and sprinter Michaela Crunkleton Wilson.

Crunkleton Wilson qualified as the top-seed in the 100 meters and 200 meters in Division II and Thompson defended her crown in the triple jump with a mark of 39 feet, 7 inches. She also qualified in both hurdle events.

“There’s definitely pressure because you know you want to come out and win again, but not only that, you want to beat what you did last year,” Thompson said.

Flagstaff’s Tatiana Gillick won the 1,600 meters in 5:08.11. Gillick was also this year’s Division II cross country champion. Peoria Liberty’s Tiffany Riley won the 800 meters in Division II, turning in a time of 2:15.54.

Day 2 of the Division I and II state championship meet will take place Saturday at Mesa Community College. Field events begin at 1 p.m. and the running events start at 3 p.m.

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