The Tonto Apache track and field team -- in only its second year of existence -- has qualified seven athletes for the USA Region 10 championships July 14 to 17 in Provo, Utah.
The achievement represents a substantial improvement over last year when the then first-year program qualified only three athletes -- Mikey Waterman, Taylor Walden and Ben Kreiger.
This year's qualifiers include Justin Johnson, Anthony Johnson, Derrick Hoosava, Windsong Burdette, Walden, Waterman and Kreiger.
The athletes earned berths to the Region 10 shoot-out by finishing among the top three at the Arizona State championships held June 11 and 12 at Glendale Community College.
If the youngsters can again finish among the top three at the Region 10 meet, they would earn the right to advance to the USA National Championships July 27 to Aug. 1 in Omaha, Neb.
With two first-place finishes in the shot-put and discus at the state meet in the Youth Boys' competition (14-15 years), Walden is a strong candidate for regional honors. The youngster, who will be a freshman at Payson High School next school year, won the discus with a heave of 132 feet, 3 inches. In the shot-put, he threw 43 feet, 2 inches.
Kreiger won the shot-put among the Youth Men (16-17 years) with a toss of 44 feet, 8 inches.
In the Midget Boys' (10-11 years) classification, Hoosava was second in both the shot-put (30 feet, 4 inches) and the discus (78 feet, 7 inches).
Waterman, competing in the Youth Boys' (12-13), was a silver medalist in both the shot-put (35 feet, 5 inches) and the discus (112 feet, 10 inches).
Also in the Youth Boys' competition, Johnson qualified for Region 10 with a third-place finish in the javelin (80 feet).
Among the Youth Women's (16-17 years), Burdette was a second-place finisher in the discus (61 feet, 10 inches).
The Tonto Apache's final qualifier, Justin Johnson in the Bantam Boys' (8-9 years), will enter the regional meet as the state silver medalist in the race walk (12 minutes, 16 seconds) and shot-put (19 feet).
Tonto coach Randy Pryor said Johnson's qualification in the race walk was a first for his team. "We've never even had anyone enter that event before."
Under the tutelage of Pryor, the contingent of athletes will practice daily in preparation for the upcoming regional competition.
The team goal, Pryor said, is for all seven athletes to earn berths in the national meet.