Tonto Apaches Debut With Depleted Team

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The performance of the Tonto Apache Track and Field Team at the Flagstaff Indoor Classic Feb. 15 at Northern Arizona University was slowed by the absence of 11 of 16 squad members. But the absences didn't dampen the spirits of coach Billy Joe Winchester.

"Of the seven who showed up, we scored a total of 45 points and finished sixth out of 48 teams," he said. "That's not bad."

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Track and field medal winners for the Tonto Apache team included (front row, left to right) Justin Johnson, Miguel Lopez, Charlie Lopez and (top) Valentino Doka. The youths won their medals at the Flagstaff Indoor Classic held at Northern Arizona University.

The Tonto Apache team members who competed included Valentino Doka (1st, midget boys shot-put), Charlie Lopez (1st, youth boys shot-put), Kindall Begay (2nd, intermediate girls shot-put), Alex Winchester (3rd; intermediate boys shot-put), Miguel Lopez (4th; youth boys shot-put) and Jarred Begay (5th, midget boys shot-put and 7th long jump).

If the team had competed with its entire contingent of athletes -- which includes Heather Waterman, Cassandra Cly, Paul Burdette, Junior Burdette, Santana Curtis, Josh Quotskuyva and Hunter Doka --he Tonto Apaches might have posted a top-three finish, the coach said.

Winchester expects the missing athletes, many of whom were ill, to be available for competitions soon.

He anticipates former Tonto Apache standout Mike Waterman to return to the team in June.

"He will only make us stronger for future meets," the coach said.

Next up for the Tonto Apaches is a March 1 track and field competition at Tolleson High School.

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