Chaparral boys standouts focus on team goals

Joeal Hotchkins and Tyquiese Anthony are trapped in an endless loop.

Individual championship … team championship … individual championship … team championship.

Each knows it will be almost impossible for Chaparral to win a team title without individual victories, but on the eve of the state track finals, which begin at 3 p.m. today at Damonte Ranch High in Reno, both said their focus was on that team goal.

“I need to get mine handled first,” said Anthony, who won the high jump and long jump and placed second in the triple jump as the Chaparral boys team claimed the Sunrise Region title last week. “My focus is more toward the team, but I know I have to do well for that to happen. Same with Joeal.”

Cowboys coach Leon Soares, though, said it will take a lot more than Anthony and Hotchkins for his team to contend for the state title.

With Sunset Region champion Shadow Ridge and other typically dominant Sunset teams Cimarron-Memorial and Palo Verde in the mix, Chaparral will need production from all of its state representatives.

And don’t forget Silverado, which the Cowboys narrowly defeated for the Sunrise championship 107-1051/2, and the Northern teams, including defending state champion Reno.

“From the beginning, it’s always been about the team,” Soares said. “But the only way we’ll do that is to get some individual titles along the way. Still, we’re really looking for the other ones besides those two to get us points. We know what we can get out of Tyquiese and Joeal, but it’s what we get out of everyone else that is important.”

On the girls side, Canyon Springs doesn’t have the same predicament.

The Pioneers won the Sunrise Region title by more than 90 points over second-place Rancho, but coach Nicole Branham doesn’t expect many individual titles at the state meet.

“For regionals, we were just trying to qualify as many as possible,” said Branham, who said she expects tough competition in the girls meet from Sunset Region champion Centennial, Cimarron-Memorial, Reno and Carson. “We knew we might not have the gold medal winners at state, but if we had enough (at regionals) placing in the top five, we have a chance as a team to come up with some sort of victory.”

While the Pioneers might not be going for gold, that doesn’t eliminate all the pressure. With Skotasia Thomas competing in four events (high jump, 800-meter run, 3,200-meter relay, 1,600-meter relay) and Shavee Lighten qualified in the long jump, triple jump, 400-meter relay and 100-yard dash, there are plenty of points to be earned.

“Even though they might not be seeded one or two, they’re still trying to be the best,” Branham said. “They’re all still really nervous — the pressure is still on. There are a few of (them) trying to get a medal up at state, just not gold.”

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