Dorae Scott Jr.

Maricopa sprinter Dorae Scott Jr., center, competes Saturday in the 200-meter dash at the Division I state track and field championships at Desert Vista High School.

MARICOPA — Dorae Scott Jr. had plenty of time to think about something that lasts only 22 seconds.

The Rams sophomore was at Desert Vista High School early Saturday afternoon to support his teammate, Dashawn McDaniel, in the Division I track and field state championships, even though his only event — the 200-meter dash — wasn’t until 8 p.m. that night. But when the time finally came to push off the starting block, he was ready.

Scott, who came in ranked seventh in the event, ran faster than he ever had in a competition, cutting 0.37 seconds off his personal record to finish fifth with a time of 22.05.

“When I run with fast people, I have fast times,” Scott said after the race. “Next time I hope to take first place in this.”

Being just a sophomore, who couldn’t even compete in state last year because the track season was shut down by the COVID pandemic, he doesn’t have far to go to accomplish that goal. The winner of the 200 on Saturday, Aiden Harvey of Sandra Day O’Connor, ran it in 21.51 seconds, meaning Scott only needs to chop off 0.54 more to hit that mark.

Scott’s coach, Corey Nelson, has seen enough from Scott to know he can make it.

“What I really liked this season was the progression he made sprinting, getting better and better each meet,” Nelson said. “The way that we train is each meet we get better, so even though we’d like to be a champion and be first, he has a lifetime best and is running faster than he ever has. So we have a lot to build on off this.”

The Rams’ only other state qualifier, McDaniel, also exceeded expectations. The junior had just barely made the cut to compete Saturday, finishing the regular season with the 24th best throw in the shot put. But with some heavy wind appearing to cause problems for some of his competitors, he managed to almost equal his personal best, throwing 42 feet, 1 inch to finish 17th.

It was a great experience for McDaniel, who wasn’t anticipating qualifying this season. He never threw a shot put his freshman year, and only threw about 35 feet in his shortened sophomore run. He said he worked on his technique a lot this season, and became much more comfortable.

“It was just nice that I got to experience it,” McDaniel said. “It was cool to see how the other competitors throw, and what techniques I can take from them to be able to throw as far as they can.”

Nelson said the work ethic shown by the two qualifiers just to get to this point will have positive ripple effects for the Maricopa track program that had some ups and downs in its first season in Division I, going up against the biggest school in the state. They expect to have more athletes at this event in 2022, and the example set by Scott and McDaniel should go a long way to getting there.

“We have two guys here who our freshmen can look up to and who are going to be around for a while,” Nelson said. “That’s very inspiring.”