June 6, 2016 - 10:58 pm
The Desert Pines boys track and field program won its first state championship in May.
But some Jaguars aren’t done with the 2016 season yet after qualifying for a national meet.
Desert Pines, led by a senior-laden team, will be competing in the New Balance Nationals Outdoor Championships on June 17-19 in Greensboro, North Carolina.
“This will be a very big program builder,” Desert Pines co-coach Wesley Stephens said. “I know Centennial went last year. But teams from Nevada just aren’t taking trips out of state.”
Amari Calvillo-Tatum, Asti Crawford and Artis McCoy — all seniors — and sophomore Jay’Vone Bradford and junior Brian Johnson will represent the Jaguars, who will compete in the 400-meter relay, the 1,600 relay and the sprint medley relay.
Calvillo-Tatum and McCoy also will compete individually. Calvillo-Tatum, who won the 200 and the 400 at the state meet, will run in the 400, and McCoy will compete in the 100 for Desert Pines.
“This is the first time our program has gone,” Stephens said. “We qualified last year, but couldn’t get the money together. Our school and some (local) club track teams sponsored us (this season).
“You don’t take this trip yearly. You take a team when you have the team to go.”
At the Division I-A state meet, the Jaguars won the 400 relay in 43.13 seconds and the 1,600 relay in 3:20.64. The team’s 1,600 relay time was the third fastest boys time in the state, only behind McQueen (3:16.67) and Division I state champion Silverado (3:20.08).
“At nationals, with the pressure of having teams around them, they can drop a second or two,” Stephens said. “They just need the pace to do it. Our middle legs need to be pushed. I’m expecting some All-American finishes. We have a very good chance at the (1,600) relay and the 1,600 sprint.”
Stephens hopes his athletes enjoy the moment and don’t take it for granted..
“I already told our sophomore and junior that we probably wont make this trip every year,” Stephens said. “We’re going to get them prepared for next season. The only reason we’re going this year is because we’re senior-heavy. They’ll perform well on this stage. They’re well-seasoned athletes.”