The Chandler Rotary Track and Field Invitational enters its 80th year this year. The meet has developed into one of the largest invitational track meets in the southwest with teams that have come from Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Wyoming and British Columbia. In 2019, over 3700 athletes from 155 high schools participated in the meet, making it one of the largest track meets held on a high school campus in the nation.
It wasn't always like that. On March 21, 1941, the sleepy little town of Wickenburg hosted the first Wickenburg Rotary Relays. Seven schools attended the meet, which included Chandler, Buckeye, Tempe and the host Wickenburg team. Nine months later the United States was in World War II, and a year later the second annual Wickenburg Rotary was held; it would be the last time the meet was held outside Phoenix. In 1943 with gas rationing and travel hard to come by, Chandler High School Track coach George Charles Berger along with the Rotary Club of Chandler brought the meet to Chandler High School. The meet continued to be a relay meet featuring ten to twelve boys’ teams. There was a few open events, like the 75 yard dash. Coach Berger was honored at the 75th Chandler Rotary track meet in 2014. Later that year, on December 7, 2014, Coach Berger passed away at the age of 95.
From the 1950's through 1982 the meet was directed by head track coach and Athletic Director Al Howell. The meet was still held on a Friday afternoon and usually only ten schools attended. The total budget for the meet in 1981 was $335, which included the cost of the medals. All meet workers received $5, while the starter was paid $10. Today the budget for the meet is over $85,000. Team entry fees pay for only half the expenses.
In 1982, Dave Shapiro was hired to be the new head track coach (eventually also becoming the AD) at Chandler High School and he was given the reigns to control the Chandler Rotary Track Meet. At the time, the Rotary meet wasn't even a second tier meet as meets in Tucson, San Manuel, and Phoenix had a greater participation rate. In 1985, a bold move was made to add a girls division to the meet. Prior to that, the norm was for girls track meets to be held separately from boys. Even the girl's state meet was held on a different weekend than the boys. The meet starting growing from 20 to 45 schools. The first out of state teams that came to the Chandler Rotary were, Montezuma-Cortez from Colorado, and Rancho (coached by the late Overton Curtis) out of Las Vegas.
Innovation has always been the goal of the meet management (now including Dave Shapiro, Eric Richardson and Matt Lincoln) for the Chandler Rotary Meet. Chandler was the only invitational in Arizona that allowed the javelin to be thrown (exhibition) in the 1980's and was the first 5A School meet to compete the triple jump as a scoring event. In the early 2000's, the meet was split into two sessions (seeded, open). In 2013, the meet was changed into a non-scoring meet and all events became finals and there were now three sessions (seeded, open & elite). This was the year that NIKE and NSAF started to become very active sponsorship partners in making the Chandler Rotary Track Meet on the largest and best High School track meets in the country. Rich Gonzalez, meet director of the prestigious Arcadia Track and Field Invitational, called the Chandler Rotary track meet one of the top five premier meets in the nation. Participation has grown from 61 high school teams in 2009 to 101 in 2011, and now we expect 160-170 schools each year.
In 2017, the Chandler Rotary Track meet somewhat go back to its roots, as it included a relay session on Friday evening. Relays in that session were the 4x1600, 4x200 800 Sprint Medley and the distance Medley, In 2019 the 4x1600 was dropped as not enough teams warranted the inclusion of the event.
Many competitors from yesteryear have gone to college, the NFL and Olympic careers. Every year new champions are crowned and every year it's hard to believe that the current year could possibly be more exciting than the past year.
2019 Highlights: Another fine year of track marks saw many winning times making the national leader boards. On the boys side, Kelee Ringo, running his first meet of the season, blazes to a 10.43 a new meet record by .07. Later on he would anchor Saguaro’s 4x100 to a meet record then capped his MVP outing by running 21.18 in the 200. Also setting a new meet record was Max Manson (Monarch) one of the nations’ best Pole Vaulter, vaulting 17’ 1”. The boys 1600 & 3200 each produced some top times. Valor Christian’s Cole Sprout blazed a 4:07.20 1600 while battling a cold. In the 3200 Highlands’ Leo Daschbach runs a 59 last split to win the 3200 in 9:04.27.
In the girls portion of the meet two track events produce some of the meet’s top marks. In the 3200 Madelin Burns (Durango) led a field of four girls who ran marks that placed them into the top 10 all time. Madeliene mark is a new meet record by 2 seconds. In the 300 hurdles, Anna Hall and MaKayla Dickerson each run under 42; which places them nationally at the time in the top five. Dominique Mustin also set a meet record in the 800. In the field Taylor Starkey (Casteel) ties the meet record in the Pole Vault while Chloe Farley (Valley Christian) set the javelin record.
2018 Highlights: Chandler finally got their track resurfaced after waiting for years for the project to be done and my were Track Times fast. The boys 100/200 saw one of California’s top sprinter Asani Hampton pull a double win with a time of 10.54 and 21.26. Three other boys run faster than 10.70. Jericho Cleveland for the second year in a row wins three events. After running a 9:17 in the Friday open session, he comes back and wins the 800 &1600 in 1:52.78 and 4:09.81. James Lee of Silver Creek was on his heels in the 1600 and ran second in 4:10.66. Both of these times rank 1-2 nationally till the end of April. James Smith of Westwood sets a meet record in the 300 hurdles in 36.58. This mark is the fourth fastest in Arizona History. Tyson Jones is a double winner in the shot and discus. In the shot, his throw of 68’ 6” sets a meet record that he had set in 2017.The other meet record is in the Javelin, where Carlin Naisant threw 204’. In the girls action, Jadyn Mays makes a statement to be the top sprinter in Arizona. Her double wins are 11.72 and 23.95 over a talented field. Breanna Bernard-Joseph is a double winner in the both hurdles (14.02 & 42.46). She is a repeat winner in the 300 as she wins also in 2017. Tierra Robinson-Jones of O’Dowd set a record in the 400—running 54.11.One of the best athletes in the nation, Anna Hall of Valor Christian wins the high jump (5’10”) to win the Most Valuable Field performer for the girls.
2017 Highlights: Twelve meet records fall in this years’ meet and several others were almost broken. In the girls, Tara Davis of Agoura wins three events and sets two records. Her time in the 100 High Hurdles (13.50) at the time is number one in the nation. The most unusual event is the girls 1600/mile where Rio Rico’s Allie Schadler wins over Brie Oakley in the 1600 by .04 seconds; but Brie, closing strong wins the mile by 01. Second. Their times in the mile of 4:46.97 and 4:46.98 are the top two times in the nation and hold up as the top two times till June. A total of seven girls break 5:00 in the 1600. On the boys side Turner Washington breaks a 30-year old state record in the discus with a throw of 215’ 8”. He would later break this mark three more times at various meets. Tyson Jones throws the shot put the third farthest in Arizona History with a throw of 66’ 8” There are three throwers who throw over 60’ making it one of two meets with this accomplishment till May. Tolleson Trey Johnson runs the meet of his life, winning the high hurdles (13.65) and the 100 (10.57).
2016 Highlights: The top race of the evening was the boys 400. It featured three runners breaking 48 seconds. Caleb Ojennes (47.75) from Palmer Ridge, CO, finished with a slim lead over Gabe Navaro (47.92) ElP Franklin and Chris Wilcox (47.97) E. Roosevelt. Daretz Hamblin from El Paso Burgess wins the 200 with one of the top times in the country (at the time) in 21.22. For the girls double winners were Kayleigh Conlon (Mt Pointe) in the shot and discus and Elsja Mecham from Summit Academy, UT in both hurdles. Elsja’ time in the 300 hurdles is a meet record of 42.02. This year the Javelin is reintroduced as an event, with Marcus Naisant (Marcos de Niza) 192’ 7” and Maja Rodriguez (Chaparral) 120’ 2” are the winners.
2015 Highlights: The top race in the meet and in the nation turns out to be the girls 1600. Twelve girls break 5:00 with Dani Jones setting a state record at the time with a 4:44.46. Katie Rainsperger (Air Academy) 4:50.53 runs second with Montana freshman girls Bryn Morley (4:51.10) and Annie Hill (4:51.94) take the next two spots. This followed a boys race that saw UofA bound Carlos Villareal out kick William Mayhew (Cheyenne Mountain) to win in 4:11.26 to 4:11.92. In the boys 3200 Ogden’s Alek Parson runs by himself to win with the second best time in meet history with 9:04.94.
2014 Highlights: The girl’s field is loaded with future NCAA All Americans. First up is Dior Hall, the national leader in the high hurdles. She runs 13.66 to lead the nation at the time and set a meet record. Right behind are two others who run sub 14: Tiana Bond (Centennial—wins the 300 hurdles) 13.88 and Jasmyn Graham. (E. Roosevelt) who is third in 13.95. This is one week after Dior ran indoors and set the national record in the 60 hurdles. Ky Westbrooks (Chandler) runs 11.64 to win the 100. Katie Rainsberger makes her first appearance and wins the 1600 in 4:51.20, over Sydney Badger (Centennial, NV) who is second in 4:52.76.Jasmine Staufacher-Gray (North Canyon) sets a meet record in the 400 with a time of 54.69. On the guys side Cerake Geberkidane (Denver East) sets two meet records in the 1600 & 3200 running 4:06.45 & 9:02.69. Paul Lucas sets a meet record in the 200 at 20.91 and almost gets the 100 record, winning in 10.52. When the night is just about over, Adoree Jackson (Serra, CA) hits the board with a monster jump of 25’ 5 ¼”. A mark that leads the country for most of the season.
2013 Highlights: This was the year of the Pole Vaulters as Scott Marshall hits’ 17’. Right behind him are Grant Sisserson (Horizon) at 16’ 8”, Cole Walsh (Brophy) 16’2” and Will Hooper (Moon Valley) who vaults 15’ 8”. This is one of the few meets and the only time in Arizona history that three vaulters have gone over 16’. In the boys 1600 Andy Truard (Salpointe) has a monster kick for the last 200 meters going by Jordan Cross (Ogden UT) to win 4:08.28 to 4:10.97. This is one of Andy’s last races in high school as he suffers a stress fracture soon after the Rotary meet. For the girls Chandler High tandem of Sherrill Jordan and Ky Westbrook dominate. Sherrill wins the 100 HH with a strong time of 13.76. Ky Westbrooks outduels Ariana Washington (Long Beach Poly) to win the 200 in 23.64 to 23.71. Ky also wins the 100 in a meet record of 11.47. Later these two would duel in the PAC12s.
2012 Highlights: This year marks the last year that the meet would be scored. After this year it became a three session meet. It would also be the last time that Jasmine Todd would compete in Arizona High School meets. The Oregon bound star suffered a torn ACL the week after Rotary. At Rotary she was a double winner in the Long Jump (20’ 1.5”) and Triple (39’ 1”) she was also second in the 100 at 11.87. Arianna Washington (Poly) wins the 200 in 23.97, edging Chandler’s Ky Westbrook who was second in 24.09. Valerie Allman, (Silver Creek, CO) makes a last second appearance and wins the discus in 144’ 10”. Later on in her career she would throw 184’ and become one of the top discus throwers in the country. On the guys side once again the 1600 is one of the top events with Cibola Bernie Montoya (4:08.82) outkicking Twin Falls, ID Erik Harris (4:09.73). Future Olympian Devon Allen sets a meet record in the High Hurdles winning in 13.62. Devon also teams up with teammate Bobby Grant to go 1-2 in the 300 hurdles. Devon wins in 37.94, while Bobby is timed in 38.63.
Out of State teams that have participated in the Chandler Rotary Track Meet
Jordan (Long Beach)
Long Beach Poly
St Paul’s Academy
Peak to Peak
St. Pius X
Mount Boucherie Secondary
El Paso Americas
El Paso Austin
El Paso Andres
El Paso Bel Air
El Paso Burges
El Paso Chapin
El Paso Del Valle
El Paso Eastwood
El Paso Franklin
El Paso Jefferson
El Paso Parkland
El Paso Riverside
El Paso Ysleta
Butler Area Senior
Juan Diego Catholic