Tonto Apache Track Team Continues It's Winning Ways


Jennifer Flores, 13, decided two years ago to try out for the newly founded Tonto Apache Track and Field team.

It's a decision she said she's never regretted.

Under the tutelage of former collegiate football player Billy Joe Winchester, Jennifer and her teammates practice a minimum of twice a week then travel once a month to USA Track and Field competitions around the state.

Jennifer said the practices are hard work, but well worth the effort when the team travels out of town.

"I like the overnight meets ... they're fun because I like going places," she said.

Only last week, the team participated in a USA competition held on the campus of Glendale Community College. There, Jennifer took second place in the discus specialty.

She said she is also about to be practicing for the long jump.

Upcoming meets the team will travel to include the USA state championships in Phoenix May 19, the Grand Canyon games in Tucson June 4 and the Junior Olympic Arizona State Games June 9.

Winchester has also entered the Tonto Apache squad in the second edition of the Grand Canyon games June 16 on the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe.

Those who qualify will participate in the Junior Olympic Region 10 competition July 13 in Pueblo, Colo.

First-, second-, and third-place qualifiers from that meet earn the right to participate in the National Junior Olympics July 25 to 30 in Buffalo, N.Y.

Jennifer said her goal is to qualify for the Region 10 meet and go to nationals.

Prior to Winchester founding the Tonto Apache track team, few reservation athletes ever had the opportunity to compete on the state and national level.

Winchester anticipates about 12 of the track team members will qualify for the Colorado meet and several will travel to Buffalo.

The philosophy of the team, Winchester said, is do well and advance to upper levels of competition, but also it's important for Jennifer, and her teammates, to enjoy their athletic experiences.

"The kids are having fun and they are doing great," he said.

Partners Golf Tournament

The Partners in Football benefit golf tournament will be held May 13 at Payson Golf Course. Registration begins at 7 a.m. and tee time at 8 a.m.

Entry fee in the four-person scramble is $60 per person, and all proceeds benefit the Payson High School football program, and the Payson Youth Football Association.

Prizes will be awarded for longest drive, closest to the pin and mulligans. Raffles will be held and lunch will be provided.

Call Mike Wheelis at 474-7041 or Eric Santana at 474-1775 for more information.

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