For Heather Waterman, the heartbreak of defeat is a feeling she's known all to well.
As a five-year member of the Tonto Apache Track and Field Team, her goal has always been to finish among the top-three at the Arizona State Junior Olympic Track and Field meet and earn a berth into the Region 10 championships.
But each season she's finished fourth in the state discus competition and was denied a berth.
"I always told her to never give up," coach Billy Joe Winchester said.
June 8 at Glendale Community College, Waterman finally realized her dream of advancing in the post-season by throwing her way to a third-place showing in the youth girls (13-14-years) state discus competition.
Finally realizing a five-year goal was an emotional moment for the youngster.
"She was so happy, she started crying," Winchester said.
The coach also found himself caught up in the emotion of the moment.
"This was the highlight of my year. She just never gave up and it finally paid off ... I am so very proud of her," he said.
With the Region 10 berth in hand, Waterman and the Tonto Apache teammates who also qualified will advance to the regional championships July 13 to 15 on the campus of the University of Texas in El Paso. A first- through third-place showing at Region 10 qualifies athletes for the Junior Olympic championships, July 29 to 31 in Omaha, Neb.
Other regional qualifiers from the Tonto Apache team include Valentino Doka (first; bantam boys shot-put), Miguel Lopez (third; midget boys shot-put and discus), Charlie Lopez (third; youth boys discus), Hunter Hardt (second; youth boys discus), Kendall Begay (second; youth boys shot-put and discus), Kodi Kepp (second; intermediate girls shot-put) and Alex Winchester (third; intermediate boys discus).
Alternates to Region 10 from the Tonto Apache team are Jarred Begay, Hillari Hardt and Cheyenne Greenwade.