The Tonto Apache Track and Field team's pursuit of Junior Olympic honors begins June 12 and 13 at Tolleson High School.
"This is a very important meet for our kids because they need to finish in the top three in order to move on to the Region X meet," coach Billy Joe Winchester said.
The region meet will be held July 14 to 18 in Provo, Utah.
If any of the Tonto Apache team members can run, jump or throw their way to a top three finishes in Provo, they would earn the right to participate in the Junior Olympic National Finals to July 27 to Aug. 1 in Eugene, Ore.
The Tonto Apache team has traditionally qualified a handful of athletes for the national championships.
The Tonto Apaches tuned up for state, region and national competition at a USTAF state championship meet May 22 and 23 at Glendale College.
Despite not having some of its best athletes, the team tied for third in the final standings with the Phoenix Bobcats, Winchester said.
The Arizona Pumas, a long-time power on the track club scene, won the meet championship.
Athletes Michael Waterman, Cody Waterman, Jordon Hinton, Andrea Hinton, Miguel Lopez and Paul Burdette were among the Tonto Apaches who could not participate for a variety of reasons.
"We missed them. They are some of our key throwers," Winchester said.
Among those to win first-place honors for the Tonto Apaches were Valentino Doka (midget boys), Alex Winchester (young men) and Kindall Begay (intermediate girls). Doka won both the shot put and discus titles. Winchester and Begay both captured discus titles.
Second-place honors went to Cassie Johnson (bantam girls; shot put), Shane Levine (youth boys; discus), George Redwine (young men; discus), Alex Winchester (young men; shot put) and Kindall Begay (intermediate girls; shot put).
Among the bronze medalists were Heath Quade (midget boys; shot put), Jarred Begay (midget boys; discus), Hunter Doka (bantam boys; shot put), Hannah Quade (midget girls; discus) and Levine (youth boys; shot put).
Fourth-place finishers included Santana Curtis (youth boys; discus), Marquel Waterman (youth girls; shot put), Heath Quade (midget boys; discus) and Redwine (young men; shot put).
Fifth-place finishers included Hannah Quade (midget girls; shot put), Jarred Begay (youth boys; javelin), and Marquel Waterman (youth girls; shot put).
Landis Quade finished sixth in the youth boys discus.
The third-place finish at the USTAF meet was proof that "the team's hard work is now starting to pay off," Winchester said.