With the track and field season reaching its crescendo, the Rio Rico High School boys and girls teams are feeling good about their season so far and looking forward to the state championship meet.
“We have five coaches working with them and I think that’s paying off,” head coach Stephen Schadler said while on his way to a recent meet in Tucson. “The kids feel like we’re listening to them and paying attention. The workouts are as individualized as we can possibly make them and I think they’re seeing the results and feeling good about that.”
The Hawks competed in a meet at Nogales High School on Wednesday, and now turn their attention to the Southern Arizona Track and Field Championships on Saturday, April 20, at Mountain View High School in Marana. After that comes the Division III state championships in Mesa on May 4-5, and Schadler said he’s hoping to take 10 girls and six or seven boys to the event.
Samantha Schadler, a Duke University-bound senior and the coach’s daughter, has qualified individually for the 800-, 1600- and 3200-meter races at the state competition, and her 4x400 and 4x800 relay teams have earned a spot as well. She can only compete in four events, one of which will certainly be the 800-meter race, which she has won for three consecutive years.
Fellow senior Sergio Romero will be back at the state meet as well to compete in the javelin, an event he qualified for as a junior.
“He finished ninth and just missed making the final (in 2018), so we’re certainly hoping he’ll move up in the ranks this year,” Coach Schadler said.
Samantha Schadler and Romero both qualified in their events during their first meet of the season, “and they’ve basically been the two people focusing on the state meet right from the first day of practice,” the coach said. “Others have been focusing on trying to qualify for state. Now they’ve met that.”
Those qualifiers include sophomore Roshan Tinoco-Miranda, who made the grade in the 1600- and 3200-meter races, and as part of the 4x800 relay team. Senior Brandon Moreno, who like Tinoco-Miranda starred on the Hawks’ cross-country team, has been reaching his personal records “and having a really good senior year,” Schadler said, calling him a “big contributor.”
The coach also praised boys team member Brian Montijo, saying: “He’s a first year senior, never ran before. But he came out for us and he’s doing a great job on the 800.”
Freshman Sasha Ogburn, coming off a strong cross-country season, has excelled in the 800- and 1600-meter races, and Cynthia Villagran, a junior, recently qualified for the state meet in the triple jump during her first season of running track.
“She’s a soccer player and a really good all-around athlete, so we’re very happy that she joined us,” the coach said of Villagran.
Another soccer player, Bianca Cruz, has stood out on the girls relay teams, as well as in the long jump.
“She’s just kind of coming into her own now in her junior year and she’s doing a great job for us,” Schadler said.
The program is loaded with underclassmen, which bodes well for the future, and Schadler said the addition of two alumni to the coaching staff has made a difference as well.
“The whole team dynamic has been, I would say, much more uplifting than last year,” he said. “We’ve got a lot more kids qualified and I think they’re all getting a lot of individual attention.”