Tonto Team Welcomes 2 Runners To Team

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Tonto Apache Track and Field coach Billy Joe Winchester is not concerned that his team's roster numbers are dwindling.

"A lot of my throwers were away, but I will have them back for the next meet and we have another family that has been added to our team," he said.

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Carolena Guerra waits with her grandmother, Cassie Johnson, for her 100-meter race.

The Tonto's next meets are USA Track and Field sanctioned events to be held May 19 and June 2 at Mesa Community College. The second competition is especially important in that it is the Arizona State USA track championships.

"(It's) a big meet for us," Winchester said.

Three of the 10 shot put and discus throwers who missed past meets are members of the Payson High School track and field team.

"We should get them back after the high school season in May," Winchester said. "The other (throwers), we expect back soon."

The jolt of adjusting to absent athletes was eased a bit when sisters Davida and Carolena joined the team.

The two are unique in that both are competing in running events on a squad that has long been known for its heralded throwers.

Since the formation of the team more than a decade ago, only senior long-distance runner Tom Cooka has represented the Tontos in running events.

Davida competes in both the 100 and 200 meter dashes in the bantam girls division and Carolina runs the 100 among the sub-bantam entries.

The two join Val and Hunter Doka and Cassie and Ressa Johnson as family team members on the Apache squad.

"They are my three family group," Winchester said. "All are very important to our team.

"We have a very small team but we have good throwers and now, good runners."

At Mesa

In an April 14 meet at Mesa College, Cardena Guerra took 31st out of 39 sprinters in the 100-meter dash. She timed in at 21.82.

Best effort from the team was Cassie Johnson's second place finish in the midget girls shot put. Justin Johnson was third among the young men shot putters and Shawnee Hinton third in the youth girls discus. She was also fifth in the youth girls shot put.

Sixth-place honors were garnered by Ressa Johnson (bantam girls shot put) and Andrea Hinton (midget girls shot put).

At the Phoenix Invitational April 7, also held in Mesa, Val Doka earned team MVP honors by finishing second in the discus and third in shot put.

"He was the only thrower who placed in both events," Winchester said.

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