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Bill Van Nimwegen

Bill Van Nimwegen has 399 articles published.

Letter Carriers’ Food Drive May 12

Apache Junction participates in annual ‘Stamp Out Hunger’ event

Every day, U.S. Postal Services workers and letter carriers see families in need. Every second Saturday in May, you and they get to do something about it.

On Saturday, May 12, the postal service will conduct its Stamp Out Hunger® Food Drive. Apache Junction letter carriers will join more than 10,000 cities and towns across America for the largest one-day food drive in the nation. The city’s drive benefits the AJ Food Bank.

This year, FRY’S Food and Drug is helping carriers handle the donations of nonperishables left by local mailboxes and in post offices. They have provided over 30,000 bags that will be delivered to each address a few days prior. It’s hoped that it makes it easier for those giving and for the workers picking up and transporting the food to the AJ Food Bank.

Longtime Rural Carrier with the AJ Post Office Debbie Robertson, who coordinates the drive, has participated in this effort for years and see’s it as a vast, community-wide opportunity for everyone who lives in Apache Junction to help neighbors and friends.

“It is our most important endeavor,” she explained. “We are doing our jobs and helping needy families at the same time. We love to get the various agencies together for this great cause.”

Residents can put unexpired nonperishables out for the postal workers to pick up on that special Saturday. The carriers will deliver those items directly to the AJ Food Bank, which hopes to collect more than 25,000 pounds of food.

The Food Bank says items always needed include peanut butter, jelly, tuna, pasta and pasta sauces, canned soups, cereal, canned fruits and vegetables, mac and cheese, beans, rice and baking mixes. But it asks that you understand plastic jars, cans or boxes are acceptable, but no glass, please. Also, please do not donate expired food or severely dented cans.

AJ Food Bank Board Member and Postal Drive Chairperson Sharon Allison-Brown explained that amount of food can feed over 1,000 people for five days. And it gives families in need a variety of basic, nutritional food.

“Many winter visitors are gone, and that impacts both our monetary donations and our volunteer ranks,” Allison-Brown said. “But our qualified families in need continue to increase each year, and they are here consistently, year-round. This event comes when we need it most.”

Without school lunches or school-supported meal programs, summer needs often increase at the AJ Food Bank, she explained.

The AJ Food Bank can provide you with tax information if you plan to itemize this donation. All donations to the Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger® Food Drive are tax-deductible, because food is given directly to nonprofit charities in the community in which it was collected.

On Saturday, May 12 – Place nonperishable, unexpired items out for your postal worker to pick up. In doing so, you will help feed hundreds of local families.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Rescued Harris hawk returned to his Gold Canyon neighborhood

By Dana Trumbull

On Thursday, April 12, Dr. Andy Baldwin and a gathering of family and friends released a rescued Harris hawk back into his home environment.

Andy and Jana Baldwin and their Gold Canyon friends love their Harris hawks. The raptors live in a familial group, nesting in the tops of trees in their human neighbors’ yards, hunting in the open desert fields that interweave with the streets of the neighborhood and resting on perches built on the tops of nearby utility poles.

The human and avian residents have lived in close proximity for several years, each growing accustomed to the habits of the others. So when Andy spotted one of the hawks huddled behind a water jug on a neighbor’s porch, he knew something was wrong.

Andy, a biologist and chair of the Life Science Department at Mesa Community College, took the injured bird to Liberty Wildlife, where an examination revealed some fierce and potentially lethal puncture wounds. “The most likely scenario,” explained Baldwin, “is that he was defending the territory from an intruding bird – or he was an intruding bird, driven out by ‘our’ hawks. Harris hawks are very territorial.”

The rescued hawk was treated at Liberty Wildlife, where he remained for about three weeks, healing and regaining strength. On Thursday, April 12, Andy picked him up and brought him back to the ‘hood for release.

“Maybe we’re reading too much into this,” Jana mused, “but it seems like the remaining hawks have missed him. They’ve just been behaving differently. We want to think that we rescued one of the hawks from our group; but, if not – if he was the intruder, we hope he’s smart enough to leave the territory quickly!”

Friends and neighbors gathered for a convivial reception, happy to welcome the hawk home and watch his release.

As Andy lifted him from the carrying case, the Harris hawk took a few minutes to orient himself to his surroundings, eying his benefactors as if evaluating this new twist in their relationship; then he powered across the open field, buoyed by the sound of cheers and good wishes. Neighbors helping neighbors.

Harris hawks live in familial groups of up to nine birds and are the only raptors known to hunt cooperatively, sharing their kills.

Harris hawk stretches his wings for flight after rehabilitation at Liberty Wildlife

AJUSD Offers Free Summer Food Program for Children

This summer, the Apache Junction Unified School District will partner with the US Department of Agriculture to offer free nutritious breakfasts and lunches to children age 18 and younger at three locations in Apache Junction.

All children ages 18 and under are eligible for free meals regardless of family income. Enrollment at an AJUSD school is not required. Everyone is welcome!

Adult meals may be purchased onsite for $1.70/breakfast, $3.00 lunch. Only one free meal will be provided per child, per visit, and all food must be consumed on site. Menus will be posted online at and at all service locations. This institution is an EEOC provider.

For more information, contact AJUSD at 480-982-1110 x2201.

Locations/dates/times are:

Cactus Canyon Junior High School
801 W. Southern Ave., Apache Junction, AZ 85120
June 4-July 5, 2018*  Monday – Friday
Breakfast 7:30 a.m.-8:30 a.m.
Lunch 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Boys & Girls Club of Apache Junction
1755 N. Idaho Rd., Apache Junction, AZ 85119
May 29-July 18, 2018*  Monday-Friday
Breakfast 9:00 a.m.-9:45 a.m.
Lunch 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m.

Salvation Army
605 E Broadway, Apache Junction, AZ  85119
June 11-July 18, 2018*  Monday-Friday
Lunch Only 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

* All sites will be closed on the 4th of July.

Term Lengths & Limits Choice Not Going to Voters

At their April 17 meeting, the Apache Junction City Council chose not to take action on limiting the terms of council members and mayor or changing the length of the mayor’s term.

After discussing two of the items introduced by Mayor Jeff Serdy—that ballot questions about terms limits for elected officials should be brought to residents for a vote—the Council did not make a motion to give further direction to staff and no vote was taken.

A third staff direction item – changing the length of the mayor’s term from 2 to 4 years – did get a motion from Councilman Chip Wilson and was seconded by Mayor Serdy. The motion failed after the vote was split 3 to 3 with Wilson, Councilman Jeff Struble and Mayor Serdy in favor and council members Gail Evans, Robin Barker and Dave Waldron opposed. Councilwoman Christa Rizzi was absent for the vote.

The discussion on Tuesday night was a continuation from the Council’s April 2 work session, when Mayor Serdy introduced the idea of term limits for mayor and city council, as well as doubling the length of the mayor’s term. Currently, the mayor’s term is two years, and the council members serve for 4 years. There is no limit on how many terms each officeholder can serve if they are reelected.

City Manager Bryant Powell pointed out that most Arizona cities have the same arrangement as Apache Junction. Councilwoman Barker gave credit to the intelligent voters in Apache Junction. “We have a council-run government. Every two years, the voters can decide – all council members are not elected at the same time,” she said.

The City Council also tabled a vote on direction to staff concerning a “one percent for art” development policy. The council had previously discussed the concept at the April 2 work session. The policy would add 1% to the overall project cost of new commercial construction. Most on the council were hesitant to add costs to new projects.

Other items addressed at the City Council meeting  on April 17 included Mayor Serdy reading a proclamation designating April as Fair Housing Month.

Student councils and other students from Desert Vista Elementary School and Peralta Trails Elementary School gave updates on their recent community efforts at the April 17 City Council meeting.

The council also honored the Student Councils from Desert Vista Elementary School and Peralta Trails Elementary School. The students updated the council on their community efforts to collect and distribute boxes of cereal to those in need, as well as organizing fundraising activities to benefit Community Alliance Against Family Abuse and Paws & Claws Care Center.

There was a presentation by Dave Richins, Board President of the Community Development Corporation, who reported on the group’s activities. He said that they are currently focusing on junk collections and neighborhood clean ups. He said CDC is just starting out, and they want to work “in concert with the goals of the city.”

There were two public hearings and the Council voted unanimously to: submit applications for the Fiscal Year 2018 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and State Special Project grant (SSP), and to approve a city-initiated rezoning of properties along Ironwood Drive between Apache Trail and Broadway.

The Council voted unanimously (6-0) to hold a budget work session on April 30, 2018, to adopt a tentative budget on May 14, 2018, and adopt the final budget on June 18, 2018.

The next Council meeting will be held May 1, 2018

City Council meetings are open to the public and held in chambers at 300 E. Superstition Blvd. in Apache Junction. The meetings begin at 7:00 p.m. Complete agendas and supporting materials are available at

AJUSD Discusses #RedForEd Walk-Out

By Sally Marks

In anticipation of a potential educator walk-out, the Apache Junction Unified School District prepared this FAQ. Further questions should be directed to  Sally Marks, public relations director, at

  • I’ve heard talk that teachers may not show up to work and the school may close. Is that true?

Yes. Teachers and staff voted last week, along with educators all over the state, to begin a walkout on Thursday, April 26. If we don’t have a sufficient number of teachers and support staff to meet state laws, the schools will close that day.

  • How will I find out if there will be a closure?

Parents and staff are being contacted via email and by phone, and letters are being sent home with students. Updates are being posted on the district website, and also on Facebook,

  • If a school is closed, will the school year be extended?

Yes. According to state laws and current policies, any day that a school is closed will have to be made up.

  • Will school closures affect graduation dates?

A closure will not affect the date of the graduation ceremonies.

  • If a school is closed, will athletic practices or games be canceled?

Lower level high school and middle school athletics will be canceled. Varsity athletics will continue as long as a coach is available for the sport.

  • If a school is closed, will school field trips take place as scheduled?

No. If schools are closed, school field trips will be canceled.

  • Will the cafeteria be open for the free and reduced lunch program?

If there is a work stoppage, the school, including the cafeteria, will be closed.

  • Will there be any arrangements for students who rely on meals from the free and reduced lunch program?

If we have a confirmed work stoppage, students/parents can pick up food boxes from their school office. Also, the Apache Junction Food Bank, 575 N. Idaho Road may be able to help. Call 480-983-2995 for information.

  • Will childcare be available?

No. The before and after school program will be closed.

  • Will the buses run if school is closed?


  • If a school doesn’t close, but has limited staff, will bus transportation to and from school still be provided?

If schools are open, transportation will continue to be provided.

  • If school is open with limited staff and I send my child, what can I expect will happen that day?

The top priority will be the safety and security of the campus. There may be limited academic instruction and support services. Lunch and breakfast services may be adjusted.

  • If a school is closed for more than one day, how often will I receive communication?

You can expect daily communication during a school closure.

  • If my child’s school is closed, do I have to call him/her out sick?

If school is closed, you are not required to call a child out as sick. Students will not be marked absent.

  • If my child’s school is open, but there is limited staff, should I be concerned?

We will only open schools if we have adequate staff to address the safety of students. It will count as a school day. As indicated above, however, instruction may be impacted, as well as other services.

  • What support will the district offer to our families?

If a work stoppage occurs, and we do not have an adequate number of staff to hold school, the only way to ensure the safety and well-being of our students is to close our schools. We notified families of the possibility of a walk out and we have asked parents to make a plan for alternate arrangements for their children if a walk out occurs. The district will not have staff to provide any services at the school site.

  • Why is this happening? What is #RedForEd or Arizona Educators United?

Thousands of teachers and education staff formed a group called #RedForEd or Arizona Educators United. This group is working to bring attention to the issue of low public education funding in Arizona.

  • Why is AJUSD letting this happen?

This movement is statewide and beyond. It is not limited to AJUSD. Honoring our staff and continuing to educate our students to their fullest potential continues to be our focus.

We appreciate your understanding and patience during this time.

AJ Educators to Walk-Out 4/26

AJUSD Governing Board approves resolution to support educators; Statewide walk-out approved by 78% of educators

By Dana Trumbull

The grassroots group Arizona Educators United (AEU) and the Arizona Education Association (AEA: teachers’ union) conducted a joint press conference at approximately 9 p.m., Thursday, April 19, 2018, to announce the results of the statewide vote. With 57,000 educators responding, 78% voted in favor of a walk-out.

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, April 23-25, educators and supporters will begin their days with a “walk-in,” giving districts, parents and community members time to arrange child care alternatives. The walk-out will begin on Thursday, April 26 and continue for an indefinite period, pushing legislators to create a plan to address the group’s five goals with sustainable funding and without sweeping funds from other at-risk groups.

AJUSD has been reaching out to parents throughout the week with information about how a walk-out would affect the school year and the students. In particular, the Food Services department has prepared individual food boxes to assist low income families who depend on schools to provide nourishing meals.

Read FAQ: AJUSD Discusses #RedForEd Walk-Out

Apache Junction school district teachers, support staff, administrators, board members, parents and community members have been actively involved in the grassroots effort, dubbed #RedForEd, for the last three months, protesting the underfunding of education. Many have participated in the marches at the state capital. Even more have staged walk-ins at the schools and joined online networking groups, uniting with thousands of educators from all over the state and, of course, wearing red shirts in support of education every Wednesday.

Inspired by the #RedForEd movement that has worked its way from West Virginia, through Kentucky and Oklahoma, Arizona Educators United has flourished over the last few months, banding together nearly sixty thousand Arizona teachers and supporters to pressure the governor and the legislature to enact permanent, sustainable solutions to the funding crisis.

Apache Junction AEU coordinator Kelli Mortenson, a 4th grade teacher at Four Peaks Elementary School, listed their demands at the April 10 AJUSD Governing Board Meeting: 1) 20% salary increases for teachers in order to create a pay structure that is competitive with neighboring states, 2) Competitive pay for all education support professionals, including aides and paraprofessionals, as well as nurses, transportation, food service, maintenance and all other support personnel, 3) Permanent certified salary structure that includes annual raises, 4) Education funding restored to 2008 levels, and 5) No new tax cuts until per-pupil funding reaches the national average.

“Our educators work tirelessly to create the most dynamic lessons they can,” stated Mortenson, “but when the funding is not there for current curriculum, then our students suffer the consequences. That problem has been exponentially compounded as the public education funds are continually diverted to private schools and the privatization of prisons.

“We, as a staff of Apache Junction Unified School District, are prepared to walk out with all our colleagues from Arizona public schools. We don’t want this to happen, but if it does, we will support this movement to bring greater funding to our schools. As educators, we always put our students first, but, unfortunately, the state of Arizona thinks it’s okay if they are last.”

AJUSD Board members voted unanimously at the meeting to approve a resolution supporting educators and #RedForEd.

“For decades, the teachers have sat quietly, buying school supplies for other people’s children, working extra hours without complaining, etc.,” said Rizzi. “I am happy to see teachers are finally standing up for themselves to say, ‘No more!’”

AJUSD teachers have held walk-ins each Wednesday during the month of April to raise awareness within the community about the movement and the issues facing public education. Walk-ins occur at the start of a school day, with staff and supporters gathering at a designated spot and walking into the school as a group, allowing teachers and staff to have their voices heard and continue educating students at the same time.

Mortenson told The News, “We have had a really great response with the walk-ins. The people who have driven by have given us thumbs up, honks, and shouted for us to keep fighting.”

Governor Ducey recently responded to the statewide movement with a promise to increase teachers’ salaries by 20% by fiscal year 2020, restoring recession-era cuts and phasing in an additional $371 million in District Additional Assistance and Charter Additional Assistance over the next five years. Many educators, however, are not convinced. They are concerned that Ducey is making promises he can’t keep.

According to the AZ Capitol Times, Ducey’s   proposal would sweep millions of dollars from other state programs in order to meet the proposed education increases. Those cuts would include: $500,000 for the Attorney General’s Border Crimes Unit, $2 million in one-time funding for the developmentally disabled, $1 million for healthcare in private prisons and $8 million in one-time funding for Arizona universities, plus another $37 million from other agencies such as the Department of Environmental Quality. It would also increase the state’s hospital assessment, which pays for Medicaid expansion, by $35 million and use $42 million in savings through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), among other measures.

Concerns also include the sustainability of the promised increases. One analyst, as quoted by George Fallar in the education blog Nebulous Verbosity, explained that, “By law, the governor and legislature cannot obligate future legislatures to future expenditures. So you will likely get your 9% this year, with no way to guarantee the rest will follow [after the November, 2018, elections]. Basically, even if the Governor is 100% committed to seeing this deal through, he has absolutely zero mechanism to assure it happens.”

Additional concerns include the possibility that the legislature intends to increase restrictions on AHCCCS (Medicaid) in order to save money and/or raid county General Funds to pay for state obligations, thus forcing county Boards of Supervisors across the state to raise property taxes to fill the gap – and to take the fall for increased taxes.

AJUSD Board Member Mike Weaver, who recently retired after 20 years as an education advocate with the AEA, summarized, “This particular movement is new; the effort to confront those who have eroded and chopped away at education funding and added more to the plate of all of our educators – and I use the word educator, because I consider every single employee of the school district to be as important as any other – it’s well over two decades old.

“The fight has been going on much longer than this particular piece of the movement. I, for one, am happy to see people finally getting up and fighting, and I hope that it’s sustained, because it’s going to take more than this legislative session; probably more than the next legislative session – there’s a long game here.”

Expect More Arizona Media Statement:

The Governor’s teacher pay proposal is a good step forward and would propel Arizona closer to meeting our shared goal of being at the national median for teacher pay by 2022.

We still need a long-term funding solution that supports the entire education continuum and ensures safe learning environments and access to 21st century resources for educators and students across the state.

Expect More Arizona is eager to continue working together, across party lines, to find long-term funding solutions that support the success of every student, every step of the way – regardless of background, income or zip code.

– Christine M. Thompson, President & CEO, Expect More Arizona

 Photo above: “Walk-ins” will switch to “Walk-out” this Thursday, Apil 26. Approved by 78% of 57,000 teachers voting.

SUV Strikes Building

No injuries in April 20 incident

A Dodge SUV drove through a building last Friday afternoon taking out the front wall of a business at 1075 S. Idaho Rd. in Apache Junction.

The vehicle was driven by one person who was treated at the scene for minor injuries by paramedics from the Superstition Fire & Medical District.

At approximately 2:00 p.m. on April 20, the vehicle was entering a parking space in front of a physical therapy business when apparently the accelerator was used instead of the brake.

The SUV jumped the curb, crossed a drainage ditch and hit a concrete bench and wooden support beam before going through the building’s wall and into the business.

A witness at the scene, who was there for an appointment, said that once inside the business, the vehicle ran through heavy resistance equipment and narrowly missed someone on an exercise bike. “It was a miracle that no one was hurt,” she said.

Damage to the structural integrity of the building required SFMD to install beams to support the roof and allow for the safe removal of the vehicle.

Imagine Prep-Superstition Wraps Up First Softball Season with 7-8 Record

By Daniel Dullum

After Imagine Prep-Superstition’s youthful softball team concluded an 11-1 loss to American Leadership Academy-Gilbert on April 18, eighth-grade second baseman Abby Otteman was trying to work the kinks out of a sore shoulder – the residue of a long season of learning a new sport.

“It hurts, but I’m OK,” Otteman said. “I think we played pretty good for our first season and accomplished a lot.”

It was the same story for the Lady Panthers in Gilbert – one bad inning. This time, it was the second, when the Eagles scored eight of their runs.

Coach Joe Baumann called it “the one-inning blues.”

After the long second inning, when ALA-Gilbert batted around, eighth-grader Jorian Foley, the Lady Panthers’ pitcher, said, “I was trying to bring my teammates back up. At times, I’ve struggled with my confidence and it happened again that inning. But I got it back.”

Just one day earlier, the Lady Panthers traveled to Coolidge and pounded Imagine Prep-Coolidge 25-12. A 12-run fourth inning keyed the win for IPS. Alyssa Noble was 2-for-3 with four runs scored, Jayla Noble scored three runs.

Geneveh Palacio was 2-for-3 with two walks, a double and two runs scored, Bella Ortiz hit a double and scored four times, and Foley walked four times and scored three runs.

Baumann juggled the lineup against ALA-Gilbert, moving Jayla Noble from pitcher to third, Alyssa Noble from catcher to shortstop, and Geneveh Palacio from third to her natural position at shortstop.

The Lady Panthers concluded their inaugural season on April 19 at ALA-Ironwood, where they suffered a 19-4 setback. IPS finished at 7-8 overall.

“A couple of our administrators told me that for us to win seven games this season is ‘a major accomplishment,’ Baumann said. “I’m looking forward to next season.”

Photo above: Imagine Prep-Superstition Coach Joe Bachmann addresses his team following an 11-1 CAA Division II softball defeat by American Leadership Academy-Gilbert. (Photo by Daniel Dullum)

AJHS Baseball Splits with Combs

Prospectors End Season with Rivalry Victory over Coyotes

By Daniel Dullum

Losing your last home game never goes down well, but Apache Junction senior Nick Mohn tried to put a philosophical spin on the Prospectors’ 9-7 loss on April 17.

“It’s all right,” Mohn, the starting pitcher, said. “It’s not really a big deal. We played good, but Combs just played better than us today.”

First baseman-pitcher Nathan Rhodes said, “It’s a bittersweet moment, but I’ve had a lot of fun with all of these guys.”

Having fun to finish the 2018 season came two days later for the Prospectors, who returned the favor of spoiling Senior Day for Combs with a 4-3 win at San Tan Valley.

“We were going to bounce back,” Prospectors Coach Alex Murphy said. “We’ve been playing much better at the end of the year, compared to the beginning.

“I didn’t see us going flat for the last game.”

After trailing 2-0 after the first inning, AJ (14-13 overall, 7-3 Black Canyon Region) scored three times in the fifth inning and a fourth run in the top of the seventh.

Mohn was 1-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI; Rhodes went 2-for-4 with three RBIs. Austin Sample struck out four, walked one and gave up three earned runs on seven hits to get the complete-game win.

On the season, Mohn hit .425 with an on-base percentage of .531, 20 stolen bases and 15 runs batted in. Pitching was a challenge for Mohn (0-3), who sat out his junior season after undergoing elbow surgery.

Rhodes, a left-handed hitter and pitcher, drove in 32 runs with three homers and 12 doubles. He batted .435 with a .543 on-base percentage and a .739 slugging percentage. A .983 fielder, Rhodes was also 2-1 with a 3.36 ERA on the mound, including a five-inning no-hitter on March 22 against Scottsdale Coronado.

“They really carried us this year,” Prospectors Coach Alex Murphy said.

“Nick and Lefty and Mat, at the beginning of the year before he got hurt. They did a lot for us with a lot of offensive production.

“Nick pitched well. His ERA wasn’t so great, but he was coming back from his elbow injury and did well for us. We weren’t expecting him to be his old self, but today he looked pretty good, so he’s coming back into shape for college ball.”

Mohn said he had a visit with Benedictine-Mesa, but hasn’t made a final decision.

“They’re going to send an offer sometime soon, and I’ll wind up signing with them in a few weeks,” Mohn said.

Rhodes said he’s still undecided about his future, but Murphy thinks he can land somewhere to continue his baseball career.

“He doesn’t know exactly where he wants to go yet. But I’ll definitely help him with that process. He’ll find someplace to go. He’s a good ballplayer.”

“I’m not sure yet, my club coaches are talking to a few colleges. Hopefully there’s something there for me in the future. It’s a dream of mine.”

In the first game against Combs, the Prospectors jumped to a 4-0 lead before the Coyotes rallied for eight runs in the fourth. Combs led 9-4 after 6 ½ innings, but the Prospectors rallied for three runs in the bottom of the seventh on a three-RBI double by Gabe Carranza.

The game ended when Carranza tried to advance to third base on an outfield fly.

“We had one rough inning the whole game, and for the most part, I think we played better than them. But you’ve got to play a solid seven,” Murphy said. “That one inning did us in, but I like the way we fought back.”

Photo above: Seniors Mathew Turner, Nathan Rhoses and Nick Mohn pose prior to the Prospectors’ final home game of the season against Combs. (Photo by Daniel Dullum)

Lady Prospectors 2nd in Barwick

Three First Places for AJ Girls; 4×400 Relay Wiped Out

By Daniel Dullum

Apache Junction’s 4×400-meter relay team had every reason to be excited after initially setting a Barwick Invitational meet record in the event on April 17 at Davis Field.

That excitement was short lived after they were disqualified, wiping out an effort that would have placed second, following the 4:41.98 turned in by Wickenburg.

“One of the girls cut into the lane a couple of steps too early, resulting in the DQ,” Prospectors Coach Tina Harshman said. “But it was still a great effort.”

Despite the disqualification, Emily and Faith Rutkowski liked the effort, considering it was the first time the quartet (along with SeAnna Brennan and Britney Davis) had run the event.

“Faith has been injured the last few weeks, and Britney and Se Se and I haven’t ran in the last couple of meets because we’ve been injured,” Emily Rutkowski said. “I wish we’d started running this earlier, because we’ve got big things ahead of us.”

Faith Rutkowski, who broke her foot playing soccer, said, “I came back kind of behind and it’s been an uphill battle for my own individual times in my races. … My foot feels great now; it was like two months in a boot. It was really aggravating and I couldn’t do anything. As soon as I got out of the boot, I just wanted to go, go, go, go!”

At the Barwick Invitational, Faith did exactly that, finishing second in the 1600 meters in 6:23.46, as the Prospector girls finished second overall with 126, one point behind Wickenburg.

First place finishers for the AJ girls were Emily Rutkowski in the 300 hurdles (48.87), Bria Teumohenga in the shot put (29 feet, 5.5 inches) and Myka Adams in the high jump (4-10).

Other highlights for the AJ girls include Adison Vargas talking second in the 400 (1:11.70), Madonna Parker second in the 3200 (14:23.21) and the 4×100 relay team was second in 54.77.

Apache Junction’s boys finished seventh with 56 points. Asadawut Soh had the best individual finish for the Prospector boys, taking second in javelin with a throw of 117-5, five inches better than teammate Chris Lohman.

“Our high performers continued to set several personal records again, another great meet,” Harshman said. “We have a good group of kids this year.”

Gilbert Arete Prep won the boys meet with 114 points, seven better than Eloy Santa Cruz. Adam Whitehead of Arete Prep was first in the 1600 (4:41.21) and the 3200 (10:22.51).

Samuel Camacho of Santa Cruz was first in the 110 hurdles (16.49) and 300 hurdles (43.14), and Dust Devils teammate Adalberto Lara claimed first place in the shot put (50-08), javelin (120-11) and discus (154-07).

Evan Favorite of Sedona Red Rock claimed first place in the 100 (11.59) and 200 (23.66).



April 17 at Davis Field

Team totals and

AJHS results



  Team totals: Gilbert Arete Prep 114, Eloy Santa Cruz 107, Sedona Red Rock 104, Gilbert Classical Academy 69, Wickenburg and Surprise Willow Canyon 68 each, Apache Junction 56, Queen Creek San Tan Foothills 43.

100 – 8, Talon Izbicki, 12.11; 11, Zach Langenbach, 12.62; 13, Brady Williams, 13.12.

200 – 5, Talon Izbicki, 24.55; 15, Zach Langenbach, 26.67; 16, Tyler McGowan, 27.06; 23, Joe Goodwin, 29.36.

400 – 12, Tyler McGowan, 1:00.18; 13, Zane Liebow, 1:02.81; 14, Brady Williams, 1:03.08.

800 – 6, Nicklas Bayer, 2:22.45; 9, Gabe Morris, 2:31.42; 10, Lucas Utt, 2:31.61; 13, Ryder Guagliano, 2:47.39.

1600 – 5, Erik Salas, 4:52.82; 7, Nicklas Bayer, 5:23.84; 10, Joe Goodwin, 5:41.61; 15, Zach Lewis, 6:45.07.

3200 – 9, Zach Morago, 14:18.35.

4×100 Relay – 3 (Zach Langenbach, Asadawut Soh, Talon Izbicki, Zach Clement), 47.06.

4×400 Relay – 5 (Talon Izbicki, Zach Langenbach, Brady Williams, Erik Salas), 3:54.49.

4×800 Relay – 3 (Nicklas Bayer, Joe Goodwin, Dayton Baldwin, Michael Jada), 9:43.72.

Shot Put – 4, Ethan Wright, 38-10.00; 12, Zach Clement, 33-06.50; 16, Sean Smith, 31-09.00; 22, Santiago Gonzales, 29-07.00.

Discus – 3, Ethan Wright, 113-04; 11, Richard Garcia, 91-06; 12, Chris Lohman, 86-03; 19, Aiden Schwartz, 79-03.

 Javelin – 2, Asadawut Soh, 117-05; 3, Chris Lohman, 117-00; 8, Erik Salas, 98-06; 12, Ethan Wright, 89-10.

Long Jump – 14, Michael Jada, 14-11.00.



  Team totals: Wickenburg 127, Apache Junction 126, Sedona Red Rock 115, Gilbert Arete Prep 71, Surprise Willow Canyon 69, Gilbert Classical Academy 56, Eloy Santa Cruz 30, Queen Creek San Tan Foothills 20.

100 – 3, Cortny Middleton, 13.81; 7, SeAnna Brennan, 14.08; 10, Adison Vargas, 14.50; 13, Noemi Hooper, 15.05.

200 – 3, Cortny Middleton, 29.36; 7, Maricella Moreno De Santiago, 31.13; 9, Noemi Hooper, 31.51; 10, Kyra Ehrlich, 31.65.

400 – 2, Adison Vargas, 1:11.70; 4, Kyra Ehrlich, 1:12.66.

800 – 4, Madonna Parker, 2:49.67; 13, Bailey Kelly, 3:54.26.

1600 – 2, Faith Rutkowski, 6:23.46; 3, Madonna Parker, 6:23.49; 9, Bailey Kelly, 8:57.79.

3200 – 2, Madonna Parker, 14:23.21.

100 Hurdles – 3, Regan Rose, 18.35; 5, Britney Davis, 18.89.

300 Hurdles – 1, Emily Rutkowski, 48.87; 4, Britney Davis, 53.92.

4×100 Relay – 2 (Cortny Middleton, Regan Rose, SeAnna Brennan, Emily Rutkowski), 54.77.

4×400 Relay – disqualified.

Shot Put – 1, Bria Teumohenga, 29-05.50; 9, Memarie Gallegos, 25-06.00; 12, McKayla Adams, 24-11.00; 13, Gabriela Martinez Velasco, 24-00.00.

Discus – 5, Memarie Gallegos, 81-08; 14, Gabriella Martinez Velasco, 65-10; 15, Bria Teumohenga, 64-09; 21, Janeya O’Brien, 54-03.

 Javelin – 4, Gabriela Martinez Velasco, 83-01; 5, McKayla Adams, 80-03; 6, Myka Adams, 78-05; 8, Bria Teumohenga, 62-11.

High Jump – 1, Myka Adams, 4-10.00.

Long Jump – 15, Myka Adams, 11-09.25.



April 14 at Chandler

Valley Christian HS

Apache Junction results


BOYS (14th, 9 points)

  100 – 36 (tie), Talon Izbicki, 12.24; 58, Zach Langenbach, 12.76.

200 – 28, Talon Izbicki, 24.66; 51, Zach Langenbach, 28.54.

400 – 42, Tyler McGowan, 59.00; 58, Brady Williams, 1:06.63.

800 – 18, Erik Salas, 2:14.31.

1600 – 8, Erik Salas, 2:14.31; 13, Dayton Baldwin, 4:57.89.

3200 – 25, Joe Goodwin, 12:17.15.

4×100 Relay – 14 (Zach Langenbach, Asadawut Soh, Talon Izbicki, Zach Clement), 47.90.

4×800 Relay – 9 (Nicklas Bayer, Joe Goodwin, Dayton Baldwin, Michael Jada), 9:59.94.

Shot Put – 38, Zach Clement, 33-04.00; 42, Sean Smith, 32-02.00.

Discus – 31, Chris Lohman, 90-00.

Javelin – 2, Asadawut Soh, 154-04; 16, Chris Lohman, 117-08; 30, Erik Salas, 96-06.

 Long Jump – 41, Michael Jada, 14-10.00.


GIRLS (10th, 23.5 points)

  100 – 25, SeAnna Brennan, 14.21; 40, Kyra Ehrlich, 14.88.

200 – 35, Kyra Ehrlich, 30.26; 37, Adison Vargas, 30.59; 45, Cortny Middleton, 31.16.

 400 – 31, Maricella Moreno De Santiago, 1:12.85; 32, Adison Vargas, 1:13.11.

1600 – 32, Faith Rutkowski, 6:41.23; 33, Kaylee Smith, 6:42.06.

100 Hurdles – 4, Emily Rutkowski, 17.06; 15, Britney Davis, 19.15.

300 Hurdles – 1, Emily Rutkowski, 48.73; 17, Britney Davis, 53.37.

4×100 Relay – 11 (Cortny Middleton, Kyra Ehrlich, Britney Davis, Emily Rutkowski), 55.64.

Shot Put – 20, McKayla Adams, 24-04.00; 21, Gabriela Martinez Velasco, 24-03.00; 25, Janeya O’Brien, 22-11.00.

Discus – 26, Gabriela Martinez Velasco, 67-03; 38, Janeya O’Brien, 50-03.

Javelin – 6, Gabriela Martinez Velasco, 99-06; 18, Memarie Gallegos, 78-05; 22, Myka Adams, 71-08.

High Jump – 3 (tie), Myka Adams, 4-10.00.

Long Jump – 23, Myka Adams, 12-06.50.


Photo above: Apache Junction track and field seniors Regan Rose, Bailey Kelly, Cortny Middleton, and Zach Clement pose along with their coaches during a break at the Barwick Invitational. (Photo by Daniel Dullum)

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