The youth movement holds its own
Everyone likes to see improvement, and Lori Showers is no different.
Showers, the track coach at Camp Verde, saw last year's results multiply this year at the 3A State Track Meet last weekend.
"Whatever we did last year was doubled," Showers said. "It was a great season."
In 2004, Camp Verde sent two girls and a relay team to state. This year, four girls attended and two relays.
On the boys side, only one athlete qualified for the season-ending meet. This time around, four guys and a relay team advanced.
Perhaps the biggest improvement lies in the numbers. Showers had 18 finish the season, whereas only nine made it through.
Camp Verde's sudden overhaul in just a year's time can be attributed to the youth movement.
This year a handful of juniors who've never raced came out for the team and experienced success. Also, a solid group of freshman runners, coming through the junior high program, made an immediate impact.
Success will keep athletes involved in a program for the long term, and Camp Verde had more than its share this year, sending nine competitors to state.
Highlighting the list is senior Amy Showers, an example of how far one can go in four years.
Showers is no stranger to state competition, having qualified for the meet each year in the hurdles. Having placed in the top eight during that stretch, she was primed to win it all in her final high school race.
Coming off her best times of her career last week at the regional meet, Showers blew past the competition in the 100-meter hurdles and the 300 hurdles, taking first in both.
"She just smoked them. She was way ahead of everyone," coach Showers said.
In the 300, Showers finally broke the school record she had been chasing for so long. Her time of 46.57 will be the new benchmark for other Cowboys to follow.
Alfonso Pesquiera, a first-year runner, finished the season strong. The junior was second in the 100 and 200 dashes at regionals, turning in his best times of the season. Last week at state, Pesquiera took fifth in both events.
The highlight for Pesquiera came in the 200 where he beat Nick Uden from Parker, the region's fastest sprinter.
"He ran a great race in the 200. He beat the kid that got him at regionals so he was very excited," Showers said.
Ernesto Sierras, another junior who graced the track for the first time this year, made drastic strides in the 3,200. Entering the race, Sierras' best time was an 11:06. He dropped close to 40 seconds, finishing the race in 10:26, which was good enough for 11th. Sierras was seeded 14th.
The winning time, 9:32 by Chino Valley's John Killian, is the mark Sierras will shoot for next.
"It was a really good race for him. As a first year distance runner, he should be very proud. He's running with some pretty elite runners," Showers said.
In the 1,600, Pesquiera didn't turn in the kind of race he would have liked. He was seven seconds slower that his PR.
"He's a paced runner. His intervals are exactly the same. I think he was just a little nervous. It was his first race at state," Showers said.
Freshman Ashley Petefish, best known for her sprinting, took seventh in the 300 hurdles ‹ an event she just picked up toward the end of the season.
Her time of 50.07 was two seconds off her PR set last week at the region meet.
"She's a fantastic runner. Amy ran a 48 as a freshman and look what she's done. I think Ashley has a lot of potential. She's a tough little runner," Showers said.
Petefish also ran on the 4x400 relay team, turning in a 63-second split in the prelims.
Amy Showers ran a 62 and both Jessica Reagan and Rainey Walker, both freshmen, ran a 65 in the prelims to give the team a time of 4:17.67, its best yet.
In the finals, the 4x400 team was unable to duplicate Friday's performance, finishing in 4:26.15 for ninth place.
"Overall we had a great year. We had a good group of young kids, and like I said in the beginning, they'd get better as they go," coach Showers said.
NOTES: This is the third year Showers has been the coach at CVHS. Since her son passed away in April, the decision to come back has been a difficult one.
"The kids keep asking me if I'm coming back to coach next year but I'm not ready to make that decision. I keep telling them I probably will," she said.
Katie Brown, a junior, has been to state three years. She didn't place in the top nine at state in the 100 hurdles, but she'll be back for one more shot.
Zach Davis, a senior, qualified for state in the 300 hurdles. He had the 14th best time.
Reagan, a freshman, was 15th in the 400 dash.