A pair of Tonto Apache Track and Field team members have qualified for the Junior Olympic National Championships. The event is this week (July 26 to 30) in Indianapolis, Ind.
Jarred Begay and Kindall Begay earned the national berths by virtue of their top-three finishes in the throws events at the Junior Olympics Region X Track and Field Championships held July 14-18 in Denver, Colo.
Kindall advances to the national title games as the Region X shot-put champion in the young women's age/sex division.
Kindall also earned a national invitation in the discus with a third place region finish.
Jarred, competing in the youth boys division, garnered a national seed in the discus with a third place region effort.
His impressive showing in Denver earned praise from Tonto coach Billy Joe Winchester.
"Jarred only weighs about 120 pounds and he was competing against kids that were 200-plus pounds," he said.
"The Denver news station called it ‘David vs. Goliath.'"
According to Winchester, the Begay brother and sister duo accepted the invitation to compete in the national championships.
In addition to the efforts by the Begays in Denver, the Tonto team received stellar showings from Cassie Johnson, Hunter Doka, Shane Levine and Justin Johnson.
Cassie Johnson was sixth in the bantam girls shot-put, Doka took fourth in the bantam boys shot-put, Levine was seventh in the youth boys shot-put and fifth in the discus. Justin Johnson took sixth in the intermediate boys shot-put.
Winchester cited Justin Johnson for a gutsy showing in which the teen insisted on competing with a badly swollen ankle.
"The day before the event, he fell down some stairs and hurt his ankle," Winchester said. "The swelling was unbelievable and I figured there was no way he would be able to throw the shot-put.
"But he came to me and said ‘I came all this way, I need to throw,' so I let him."
The national championships will mark the culmination of a track and field season that began in January for the Tonto team members.