CASA GRANDE — The Casa Grande Kiwanis Invitational is always the biggest host track meet for Casa Grande Union, and its girls team performed very well among a crowded field of competitors.

The meet was held Friday and included 23 different schools from across the state. The CG Union girls finished in fourth place with a team total of 49 points.

The girls meet was won by Queen Creek (177 points), Mesa Mountain View (125) came in second, and Tucson Sabino (86) finished third.

While American Leadership Academy-Ironwood placed seventh with 29 points, the rest of the Pinal County schools did not fare as well. San Tan Foothills tied for 14th with nine points, and Vista Grande tied for 18th with five points. Santa Cruz Valley did not score any team points.

The results were less encouraging for the boys teams from Pinal County. CG Union placed the highest among the five county schools at the meet with 18.5 points and a 10th-place finish.

Vista Grande came in 13th with nine points, Santa Cruz Valley was 15th with five points, ALA-Ironwood finished 16th with two points, and San Tan Foothills was 17th with one point.

Santa Cruz senior Orlando Davis Jr., who competed in the javelin, shot put and discus, was hoping for better results. His best finish was 11th in the javelin with a throw of 117 feet, 5 inches, but that’s still well short of his personal-record of 134-8, which he set at the 2019 Division IV state championships.

“I can do better; I can do way better,” Davis said of his javelin performance. “I’m still trying to get my technique down. Kind of lost it, that’s why.”

Davis has already qualified for the D-IV state meet in all three events, but he wants to see significant improvement in his results heading up to that event, which is May 14-15 at Perry High School in Gilbert.

He did have encouraging results in the discus earlier this season at the Richard Thompson South Mountain Classic on March 20.

“Two meets ago, I hit 110 (feet); that was by best throw,” he said.

That discus throw went 110-2, and Davis also set his PR in the shot put earlier this season with a throw of 37-11. He has a lofty goal of eventually reaching 40 feet.

The CG Union girls were led by sophomore Jaycie Spencer, junior Dariana James, senior Lisbet Porras, senior Psalm Johnson and its 4X800 relay team.

Spencer was second place in the 100 meters (12.97 seconds) and took third in the 200 (26.78); her time in the 200 was a PR. Porras, a distance runner, placed third in the 1,600 (5:51.30) and was fifth in the 3,200 (13:29.50).

Johnson was a triple threat, taking fourth in the 100-meter hurdles (17.03), second in the 300 hurdles (49.88) and third in the triple jump (34-11). All three results were a PR, a memorable day at the track.

The 4X800 relay team consisting of Porras, Hannah Hartman, Megan Tsabetsaye and Destiny Soto finished in third place with a time of 11:12.52.

ALA-Ironwood was carried by sophomore Teagan Fears and senior McKenzie Fears. Teagan Fears won the 3,200 meters (13:03.02), and McKenzie placed second in the 1,600 (5:49.81) — the latter getting edged by freshman Reagan McGuire of Tombstone (5:49.50).

Both McKenzie girls were part of the Warriors 4X800 relay team that finished fourth (11:13.95) and included Jocelyn Kent and Rachel Baker.

The top individual performances from Pinal County athletes in the boys meet were from Santa Cruz senior Dylan Hukill in the 100 (sixth; 11.42) and 200 (seventh; 23.44); CG Union senior Damon Newton in the high jump (T-fifth; 5-8); CG Union junior Anthony Flores in the triple jump (eighth; 38-0); and San Tan Foothills junior Payton Moore in the javelin (eighth; 122-10).

The relay teams carried the CG Union boys, as the 4X100 group placed fifth (45.07); its 4X400 team was fourth (3:34.13); and the 4X800 team was fourth (9:40.17).

The 4X100 team includes Erik Nelson, Darion Walker, Anthony Padilla and Raphael St. Aude; the 4X400 team includes the same four runners; and the 4X800 group includes Andres Ybarra, Noah Salas, Nathan Pineda and Jose Atrian.

The Vista Grande 4X800 team finished second with a time of 9:13.11. It consists of Kenneth Hernandez, Ryan Klingsmith, Tayes Laughing and Jordan Verduzco.

Other top performances in the girls meet included Vista Grande senior Zoe Esparza (seventh; 54.29) and San Tan Foothills sophomore Jordyn Kaiser (eighth; 54.49) in the 300 hurdles; ALA-Ironwood sophomore Haley Whiting in the shot put (eighth; 28-5); and ALA-Ironwood sophomore Maleah Tucker in the discus (fourth; 87-0).


Brian Wright is the sports editor at PinalCentral. He can be reached at