[Photo by Tom Gibbons]
Arizona Cheetahs Coach Ted Williams said that with over 2,200 competitors at the event, he and his team were using this as an opportunity to see how many of the season’s later big meets would go.
“The main thing is that I just wanted to have them come play and see how to prepare mentally and how to prepare and see some of the athletes,” Williams said.
Do Right coach Joyce Green said that her runners were utilizing the meet’s scale to push themselves now in order to set themselves for improvement as they head in to bigger competitions in the summer.
“We’re emphasizing for this meet to reduce our times and drop our times so that we’re ready for regionals,” Green said.
Shanna James of the Arizona Puma Track Club said for her runners, the competition for the weekend was as much against her runners’ old times as it was their competitors on the track.
“The main goal for them is to beat their (personal best) from the previous time, and every meet is the same goal,” James said.
James said that with this meet, the Pumas would use it as a launching point for where they need to improve throughout the rest of the season.
[Photo by Tom Gibbons] “We look at this meet as our starting point for the season going in to Junior Olympic State, so its really now pushing the kids who got a good solid time against strong competition, and what they have to work towards for state,” James said.
Junior Green with Northwest Xpress Track said that his team had held up well against Saturday’s surprising heat, and that with the event right in the heart of their season, the most important thing for his team to do now was learn what they can do better after being at the Phoenix Invitational.
“This is the midpoint of our season, and what we do is we judge ourselves of how we come of the Phoenix Invite,” Green said. “PI is not so much of an issue so much as what do we outstanding for time, but what we do from this point on.”
Green said that a reason he feels the Phoenix Invitational is so important for his team is because of the opportunity it provides to his athletes to compete at a bigger meet than most during the regular season.
“This is the time where you get to a big track meet, you get the kids used to being at a huge track meet, and then from that point on now you’re working on getting the skills to match. When they get to the regionals or nationals they don’t feel glassy-eyed to see all these kids,” Green said.
Phoenix Bobcats coach Erwin Jones said that the scale of the event was imperative for his team to experience early on in the season.
“It’s probably one of the best competitions we get early season for us so our athletes have been doing really well,” Jones said.
Jones said that with a meet like this, the places in each race don’t matter, so much as what the lessons are his athletes take away from the event.
“We don’t look at this meet, but we gauge our season and the rest of the season on how we do here, what we need to work on, some of the athletes that we see here we always travel to all the national meets and we say if we’re gonna go there, we need to be here,” Jones said.