Tempe Prep Track & Field- May Article

Perhaps the most successful program in TPA sports in years past, the Knights Track and Field team experienced the trials and tribulations this season that come with having a young group of competitors and participating in meets that included opposing schools from the state’s top two divisions. Despite the difficulties, both the boys’ and girls’ teams had a season filled with accomplishments, accentuated by a fantastic showing at the Division IV state tournament.

In this most important tournament of the year, which marked the conclusion of the 2014 season, both the girls’ and the boys’ teams rose to the occasion and performed better as a whole than at any previous meet: the former placed second among all the Division IV schools, and the latter finished fourth.

One of the track and field team’s coaches, Dr. Hickernell, was very impressed with how the boys and girls finished the year. Among those who led the charge, he noted junior Alex Akiu as one of the team’s better sprinters, sophomore Isaiah Brittain as doing well in throwing events, senior Camille Zimmerman as a top performer in jumping events—winning first in the long jump—and senior Marie Bryant as being  very valuable in the state meet.

Rachel Matsumoto capped off her excellent three-sport junior year by breaking the TPA girls’ record for the 800-meter run with a time of 2:24.91. Coach Hickernell praised the Lady Knight for being “versatile all over the place,” of course particularly in the aforementioned event. Teammate Luke Sandoval added that “she always tried her best and kept improving and ultimately got her goal of beating the record.”

Coach Hickernell also expressed how delighted he was with the boys’ 4×800-meter relay team. As the first alternate in their event, the group of four runners—composed of Sandoval, Andrew Chang, Peter Chang, and Jacob Matsumoto—had to be prepared and warmed up to jump into the race if another team was not there. Eventually, the four were allowed to run as an additional team, and in attempting to prove that they belonged, each runner ran a personal best 800-meter time and the team achieved 13th place in a field of 19.

Though the team lacked experience, Coach Hickernell stated that it was a “strong effort by a young team” throughout the season, and believed it was “very impressive that we were finishing second and fourth with a young team…that’s very promising for the future.”

As he looks ahead to the future, Coach Hickernell says that he’s “sad to see the seniors go,” but looks forward to seeing “the excitement that the freshman, sophomores, and juniors have [next season]. They really have a lot of team spirit, they’re pulled together as a team, and that’s just really exciting to see.” Graduating senior Luke Sandoval also remarked that “it was a very close-knit group,” and though only joining the team in his last high school year, felt that “overall it was a very positive experience.”

*Published on May 21st.

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