Tonto Apaches Add Pocket-Sized Sprinter

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A Rim country youth track and field team that built a nationwide reputation on the strength of its shot putters and discus throwers now has a sprinter.

The Tonto Apaches acquired the speedster two weeks ago when Davida Guerra joined the team.

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Tonto Apache track and field team members Cassie Johnson (left) and Andrea Hinton both won medals in a USA meet held at North Canyon High School. Both athletes compete in the bantam girls class.

Tonto Apache coach and founder Billy Joe Winchester describes her as "about three feet tall and weighing about 28 pounds."

Competing in the sub-bantam girls age/sex division, Guerra competed in her first meet as a Tonto Apache team member Feb. 28 at a U.S. Track Arizona meet at North Canyon High School in Phoenix.

"She ran a 26.42 in the 100-meter dash and finished in ninth place," Winchester said. "Watching her in her first meet I was going nuts, but she was relaxed and acting like she'd run in hundreds of these meets."

The efforts of Guerra coupled with those of her teammates propelled the Tonto Apaches to 216 points and a first-place finish in the 21-team field.

In the team's winning effort, the Tonto Apaches earned first place from Cassie Johnson, Jordan Hinton and 72-year-old Tom Cooka. Johnson won the bantam girls shot put and Hinton took the youth boys shot put and discus titles. Cooka was first in the 3,000 meters, touring the course in 14:14.

The team also now features two athletes, Hinton and Shane Levine, who are ranked one and two in the youth boys Arizona state shot put and discus standings.

"What I like about these two is they are good friends but they are very competitive with each other," Winchester said. "Because of that, they should improve each meet and make it to the nationals."

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