Column: State championship provided lasting memories for a number of local athletes

Kingman Academy’s Maryssa Edwards pitched in her final game for the Lady Tigers in the quarterfinals of the 2A State Championship in Phoenix.

Photo by Beau Bearden.

Kingman Academy’s Maryssa Edwards pitched in her final game for the Lady Tigers in the quarterfinals of the 2A State Championship in Phoenix.

For a number of area track and field athletes, Saturday was the final time they’d don their school colors at the state championship in Mesa and that emotion was clearly evident.

Kingman Academy’s Sam Skankey, however, remained composed despite the fact he knew his high school career was over after he finished his final race – the 1,600-meter run.

For Lee Williams’ Sadie Snay, the end was a little more emotional as I noticed her fighting back tears as coaches and supporters comforted her following discus.

She had just narrowly missed medaling at state and head coach Joan Abraham summed it up best.

“It was bittersweet for Sadie Snay,” Abraham said. “She has worked so hard all season and really wanted to be on the podium at state. She missed by a few feet, but still threw a PR.”

Snay definitely showed how badly she wanted to medal at state. She went from No. 14 to No. 5 in the shot put Friday and then moved from No. 15 to No. 5 in the discus Saturday.

While she just narrowly missed out on medaling, there’s no doubt that she had a great career and will be remembered as one of the many great Lee Williams athletes.

The same could be said of Kael Juelfs, who showcased the same kind of grit and dedication throughout his senior campaign. I witnessed it on the football field and saw it firsthand Saturday in the shot put.

He knew his No. 4-seed going into the state championship didn’t guarantee a medal, and he made sure he stepped up on the biggest stage of them all to set a personal record and hold serve with a fourth-place finish.

While he also wanted a higher finish, he gave the younger Volunteers plenty of motivation to know they can battle with the best in the state.

Those are just a few examples of my state track and field experience, but it’s also worth mentioning the final game for a number of Academy softball players.

This group of Lady Tigers have bonded together over the course of their career and saw it end in a tough way, but they kept their heads up and didn’t let the loss get them down.

Academy head coach Tim Pena made sure to let the girls know just how special this group was during one final speech following the game.

Emotions were running high, but Pena didn’t want any tears – he couldn’t be prouder of what Academy accomplished in 2018.

Being able to cover most of the Lady Tigers’ run was a whirlwind experience for me, but as Maryssa Edwards said about her teammates – I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

It was an honor to make the trip to Phoenix and see a number of area athletes conclude their career on the grandest stage of them all.

This isn’t the end though.

Yes, many of the talented athletes will graduate soon, but there are plenty of youth waiting in the wings to step up and prove they belong with the best.