Ready to make a (state)ment
The Lake Havasu track and field team will compete in the Division II state championship today at Mesa Community College, with more events following on Saturday.
Fourteen athletes from Lake Havasu qualified for this year’s meet, with four athletes clinching a spot in two separate events.
“The kids are excited and they’re working hard,” said head coach Dustin Zampogna. “It’s an accomplishment to make it there and the ability to be one of the top in state is exciting.”
The Knights’ Jacob Schafer qualified in both the boys’ 100 meter dash and long jump. This is the first time the senior qualified for the 100.
“[Qualifying for state] is definitely shocking because there’s a lot of fast kids in Arizona,” said Schafer. “It’s really an honor to race against those guys.”
Fellow senior Paul Davis qualified in both the boys’ 110m hurdles and triple jump.
“I feel very, very confident going into this,” said Schafer. “I know I got to run my best and prove to everybody about all the hard work that I’ve put into this.”
Junior Joshua Hansen also claimed a spot in two events, as he qualified in both the 800 and 1600. A medical issue prevented Hansen from finishing the past two seasons, but he credits the new track installed at Lake Havasu as the main reason he has been able to stay healthy.
“I’m really happy and I’m trying to run in college and not finishing seasons doesn’t look good to coaches,” said Hansen. “I’ve been pretty close to our school’s mile time record and hopefully I can get there.”
On the girls’ side, junior Kilee Greene qualified in both the triple jump and high jump. This is her second appearance at the state meet.
“[State] seems like it came way faster than it did last year,” said Greene. “I’m more confident now that it’s my second year. I’ve being a lot better as far as my personal bests.”
A pair of freshmen also qualified for Lake Havasu.
Brenton Szymanski clinched a spot in the boys’ 300m hurdles. He credits his coaches for his rapid progress throughout the year.
“[My coach] helps me with the small things and that helps with the biggest outcomes,” said Szymanski. “It helps me the most when he knows what I need to work on.”
Hayden Sholl qualified in the girls’ javelin, an event Lake Havasu didn’t compete in until this year. She currently holds the school record in the javelin.
“When I started throwing, it was so fun and now I really like it,” said Sholl, who only recently began javelin throwing. “I’m really excited and I have so many goals set for javelin.”
Senior Pablo Torres, who recently recovered from the flu, claimed a spot in the boys’ discus. He qualified provisionally last year, but failed to make the cut.
“I feel better physically, but I lost a little strength,” said Torres about his illness. “I’m just hoping I can come through with my top throw.”
In the girls’ discus, sophomore Aaliana Bridges also qualified for the Knights, her first time clinching a spot.
“Pushing myself and my family pushing me to do my best and succeed,” said Bridges about what has been the key to her success this year.
Senior Cassidy Emmert claimed a spot in the girls’ triple jump, joining Greene. Emmert was not able to compete last year due to a stress fracture in her foot.
“I feel excited because I wasn’t able to compete last year because I got hurt,” said Emmert.
Also competing alongside Greene in the high jump will be senior Jaden Murray, who is qualifying for her fourth consecutive year.
“It’s fun to go up in heights with [Greene],” said Murray. “I’m a little nervous but I’m hoping to do good this weekend.”
One relay team from Lake Havasu also qualified for state, the girls’ 4x800m team. They will be comprised of seniors Zoe Dondero and Sydney Huffman, junior Dailynn Evans and sophomore Isabella Sloma.
“Our team has switched up a lot throughout the season, but I feel like the group of girls we have right now are definitely the fastest we have to offer,” said Dondero.
It has been several years since the Knights had a 4x800 team qualify.
“I think it’s exciting because it proves how hard we’ve worked thorighout the season,” said Sloma.
The team feels more excitement than nerves heading into the state competition.
“I feel since we’ve had so much training and practice up to this point, it’s kind of just exciting to finally make it to state and compete against the best,” said Huffman.
The team is scheduled to leave town today at 5:30 a.m. The first event the Knights will be competing in is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m.
“They proved that hard work reaps reward and this is that reward” said Zampogna.