Even With Missing Athletes, Tonto Track Does Well

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Tonto Apache Track and Field team coach Billy Joe Winchester is hoping a full contingent of athletes shows up when the squad travels March 18 to Mesa College for a USA meet.

Most of the early season, the Tonto team has competed with a depleted roster, mostly because athletes are involved in other sports at Payson High and Rim Country Middle schools.

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Sisters Andrea Hinton and Shawtee Hinton, valuable members of the Tonto Apache track and field team, were among the 12 athletes missing when the team competed at the Bobcat Relays.

"I can't wait until the (school) seasons are over because I am missing some of my key throwers," he said.

Among those missing are longtime team stalwarts including Kindall Begay, Jarred Begay, Marquel Waterman and Kesha Waterman.

The last time the Tonto Apaches competed, March 4 at the Bobcat Relays at Shadow Mountain High School, the team had just five athletes earn medals.

That crew, however, performed well enough to earn the team a first place finish.

"Only six teams showed up and we walked away with the first-place trophy with 64 points," Winchester said. "The kids did a great job, almost all got gold."

In the bantam boys age/gender division, Hunter Doka was first in the shot put and second in the mini javelin.

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A full contingent of shot putters and discus throwers, as the Tonto Apache Track and Field team had last season with these six athletes, would render the squad a force to deal with in a March 18 meet at Mesa College.

Ress Johnson won the bantam girls shot put event and her older sister, Cassie, placed second in the midget girls shot put.

Val Doka, competing for the first time this season, threw to a shot put first place and a discus runner up shot.

Justin Johnson was first in the young men's shot put.

Although the team departed Shadow Mountain with a first-place team finish, Winchester continues to hope all his athletes turn out.

"I can't wait to see how we do with the whole team together at one meet," he said.

The coach also thanked tribal members Ivan Smith, Arlene Smith and Sabrina Campbell for their support.

"Without those three we would not have a team," he said.

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