On a blistering day in Mesa last Saturday, when most were probably splashing around in swimming pools, five members of the Tonto Apache Tribe were heaving shots, javelins and discs as far as they could.
Their efforts were well rewarded. All placed in the top three in each event they participated at a regional track meet at Mesa Community College.
The Tonto Apache track and field team only had five participants at the multiteam meet, which featured more than 30 teams.
Coach Billy Joe Winchester said, despite their small numbers, the team's outcome was big.
"We did really well," he said. "They've got a lot of heart."
Standout Hunter Doka continued to show his prowess in the bantam division of the shot put with a first-place launch of 8.43 meters. The effort garnering second place behind Doka was at 7.12 meters.
"Once again, he ran away in the shot put event," Winchester said. "Hunter needs some competition."
Doka also placed second in the mini javelin event with a throw of 22.07 meters.
Hunter's big brother, Val Doka, also overwhelmed the competition in his first meet of the season.
He captured the gold in the shot put event in the intermediate division with a hurl of 11.69 meters and was runner-up in the discus with a throw of 29.86 meters.
"Not bad for his first track meet of the season and first time with a 12-pound shot," Winchester said.
Shane Levine followed behind Doka in the intermediate shot put and discus events with a 9.42-meter heave good enough for second place and a discus launch of 25.47 meters for third place.
Cassie and Ressa Johnson contributed to the team's success with third-place shot put finishes of 6.99 meters and 3.95 meters in the midget girls and bantam girls divisions, respectively.
The teams next meet is the Phoenix Invitational at Glendale Community College on Saturday, March 31 and Sunday, April 1.
One hundred teams from around the United States will participate in the meet, including teams from California and Texas, but the team is ready for the challenge, Winchester said.
"Everyone's right on track," he said.