If Tonto Apache Track and Field coach Billy Joe Winchester can ever muster a full roster, his team could be a championship contender as it has been in the past.
In two meets this year, the Tonto Apache crew has not had the services of several of its veteran athletes for a variety of reason.
At Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff two weeks ago, the team was missing 11 of 16 squad members, but managed to earn several medals.
When the team returned to action March 16 at Tempe High School, it was still without five of its team members.
The absences of those athletes didn't slow the efforts of several others who competed mostly in the shot put and discus events.
One of the best showings of the meet was turned in by Valentino Doka who, Winchester said, is ranked sixth nationally in the shot put. On his fourth throw of the competition, Doka unleashed a personal-record toss of 9.27 meters to win the event. In the discus, he was third.
Kindall Begay also was at the forefront of the Tonto Apache charge, winning first place in intermediate girls shot put and discus. Charlie Lopez, competing in the midget boys division, was first in the discus and second in the shot put.
The team also received commendable efforts from Matt Johnson (second discus, third shot put) in the intermediate boys division.
Competing in the intermediate girls discus, Heather Waterman garnered a silver medal. In the shot put, she was second.
In the midget boys division the Tonto Apaches received valuable contributions from Justin Johnson (fourth; shot put), Miguel Lopez (fifth; shot put and discus), Jared Begay fourth; discus) and Santana Curtis (10th; shot put).
In intermediate girls long jump, Cassandra Cly was third. Hunter Doka took ninth in the bantam boys long jump.
The meet marked the debut of Cassie Johnson who was competing in her first meet.
Battling in the bantam girls division that drew 10 strong competitors, Johnson managed fourth-place honors.
"We are very proud of her and hope she keeps on throwing," Winchester said.
Following the meet, the coach praised the members of the depleted lineup for "once again doing a great job."
The coach is hoping he has a full contingent of athletes on hand when the team returns to action April 4 to 6 at the Phoenix Invitational at Glendale College.
"If we are at full strength, we will be tough to beat," he said.