Tonto Track Stars Head To Junior Olympic Finals

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Jarred Begay is the state's second-place finisher in the intermediate boys shot put.

Next up for a foursome of Tonto Apache Track and Field members is the prestigious Region X Junior Olympic championship finals. The meet will be held July 12 through July 15 in Albuquerque, N.M.

Tonto qualifiers include Jarred Begay, Kindall Begay, Cassie Johnson and Hunter Doka.

All qualified for the Region X games with top-three finishes in the Arizona Junior Olympic Championships June 16 and 17 at Glendale Community College.

"It's coming down to the best of the best," said Tonto track and field coach Billy Joe Winchester.

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Kindall Begay finished third at state in the young women's shot put.

The Tonto team could have a fifth qualifier in Val Doka, who was fourth in the state games.

For Val Doka to receive a region berth, one of the top three qualifiers in his age/gender group --- intermediate boys --must turn down the invitation to Albuquerque.

If that happens, Val Doka would go as an alternate in the shot put event.

Jarred Begay will advance to Region X as the state's second-place finisher in the intermediate boys shot put.

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Hunter Doka won the Arizona JO state title in the bantam boys shot put.

Kindall earned a berth by finishing third at state in the young women's shot put.

Cassie Johnson was a silver medalist in the midget girls shot put and Hunter Doka won the Arizona JO state title in the bantam boys shot put.

For Johnson, the trip to the Region X competition will be her first.

"She has been working hard the past three years to make it," Winchester said.

Tonto team members who finish among the top three at the meet in Albuquerque will earn berths into the national championships, to be held July 24 to 29 in Walnut, Calif.

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Cassie Johnson was a silver medalist in the midget girls shot put.

Hunter Doka could be one of those national qualifiers. He is no stranger to the national scene, having finished 15th among 32 national shot put qualifiers at the 2006 event held at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Md.

In Glendale

At the Arizona JO championships, eight athletes represented the Tonto team. In addition to the qualifiers, the entrants included Ressa Johnson (fifth; bantam girls shot put), Justin Johnson (fifth, young men's shot put), Jordan Hinton (seventh; intermediate boys shot put).

Shane Levine traveled to the meet to participate in the intermediate boys shot put and discus, but was scratched at the last minute.

"He hurt his knee, so I pulled him from his events," Winchester said.

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