State Preview: Danielle Graham of Chino Valley just 1 of many small-school standouts at D-IV championships this weekend

May 5, 2023 by Brian M. Bergner Jr., AZPreps365

Chino Valley’s Danielle Graham, right, stands with her friend and teammate Jalie Lane, after a meet this spring. Graham is No. 1 currently in the 400-meter with a 1:00.32 time. She hopes to be a gold medalist come weekend’s end. (Chino Valley Athletics/Courtesy)

MESA — Representing small-school America, Danielle Graham of Chino Valley owns the top spot in the 400-meter dash heading into the Division IV State Track and Field Championships this weekend in Mesa.

Her 1:00.32 time is just ahead of three others, including Cami Kohl (1:00.39) of Pusch Ridge, Hailey Jones (1:00.43) of Snowflake and Taylor Tatum (1:00.60) of Sabino.

And it might be that close this weekend after the final gun sounds.

Mark Metz, head coach of Chino Valley’s track and field program, said Graham is a top competitor and “awesome athlete to coach.”

“She is a hard-working athlete who will do what is asked of her and will give it her best,” Metz said. “She is very receptive to coaching.”

The junior has been at her craft since sixth grade, and is currently qualified to run in the 800- and 4X100-meter relay state events at Red Mountain High School come May 5-6.

Despite her hard work, she has yet to reach a state podium during her high school career. But she plans to change that.

“I’d like to say my chances are high, but I don’t want to get my hopes up. I am ranked going into it, my chances are pretty good. As long as I run my time,” Graham said, adding, “No matter what I need to run my race, give it my all.”

If a track and field scholarship isn’t in the cards for Graham, her grades certainly make her a candidate to go anywhere, sporting a 3.8 GPA with plenty of AP classes to brag about.

In her spare time, Graham likes hanging out with friends and family, and loves to shop.

“We all like to go shopping a lot, spend a lot of money. Nothing much besides that. Most of my friends I know through sports, so we hang out at practices, too,” Graham said.

Graham isn’t the only Cougars track star heading to state. Brody Ryan has qualified as well in the 300-meter hurdles and is currently holding the No. 1 spot with a 40.39 time.

“We have had a great season,” Metz said of his Cougars.

Conner Willis of Snowflake isn’t far behind Ryan at 40.93.


There’s plenty of good track and field events coming up this weekend with small-school athletes ready for the big time.

Other’s to watch on the Division IV boys side include Payson’s William Spalding (100-meter dash, 11.07), Sincere Tso (200-meter dash, 22.55) of Chinle and Wyatt Nicholas (high jump, 6-5) of Thatcher.

Let’s not forget the relays. Both Valley Christian and Chino Valley have qualified for all three events (4X100, 400 and 800).

For the D-IV girls, Jacey Perkins of Show Low is No. 1 in the 300-meter hurdles at 47.00, while her teammate Aubrie Wilson is tops in the high jump at 5-6. Add Ava Sooter (pole vault, 10-0) of Sabino and Snowflake’s Lily Lundberg (long jump, 17-7) and this weekend is going to be quite interesting.


The Division IV State Track & Field Championships are scheduled to take place Friday and Saturday, May 5 and 6, at Red Mountain High School, 7301 W. Brown Rd., Mesa.

Events will be broadcast live on the NFHS Network. Visit for more.


100-Meter Dash

Boys: William Spalding, Payson, 11.07; Antonio Carrola, Coolidge, 11.08; Lucas Webb, Show Low, 11.09;

Girls: Kaydance Sherwood, Empire, 12.42; Lillian Zollicoffer, Palo Verde, 12.55; Delin Peterson, Benjamin Franklin, 12.77;

200-Meter Dash

Boys: Sincere Tso, Chinle, 22.55; Lucas Webb, Show Low, 22.67; Justin Eltiste, Benjamin Franklin, 22.77;

Girls: Kaydance Sherwood, Empire, 25.11; Lillian Zollicoffer, Palo Verde, 25.80; Lydia Szabo, Blue Ridge, 26.29;

400-Meter Dash

Boys: Jose Garcia, Valley Christian, 49.79; Antonio Carrola, Coolidge, 50.04; Cade Winkler, Thatcher, 50.73;

Girls: Danielle Graham, Chino Valley, 1:00.32; Cami Kohl, Pusch Ridge, 1:00.39; Hailey Jones, Snowflake, 1:00.43;

800-Meter Run

Boys: Jose Garcia, Valley Christian, 1:57.35; Steven Halls, Blue Ridge, 1:58.67; Jack Kemling, ALA West Foothills, 1:58.78;

Girls: Ryley Nelson, Gilbert Christian, 2:20.07; Lauren Ping, Valley Christian, 2:23.32; Kelly Hill, Holbrook, 2:24.10;

1600-Meter Run

Boys: Steven Halls, Blue Ridge, 4:22.92; Glenn Thomas, Northwest Christian, 4.24; Myles Floyd, Pusch Ridge, 4:24.88;

Girls: Lauren Ping, Valley Christian, 5:05.77; Jade Reid, Page, 5:19.06; Kimberly Cerny, ALA-West Foothills, 5:19.57;

3200-Meter Run

Boys: Glenn Thomas, Northwest Christian, 9:28.95; Myles Floyd, Pusch Ridge, 9:39.75; Symond Martin, Page, 9:44.95;

Girls: Lauren Ping, Valley Christian, 11:12.85; Jade Reid, Page, 11:20.20; Kimberly Cerny, ALA-West Foothills, 11:36.66;

4X100-Meter Relay

Boys: Benjamin Franklin, 43.83; Payson, 43.88; Show Low, 44.02;

Girls: Snowflake, 50.83; Benjamin Franklin, 50.86; Payson, 51.23;

4X400-Meter Relay

Boys: Show Low, 3:29.66; Blue Ridge, 3:30.45; Snowflake, 3:30.95;

Girls: Blue Ridge, 4:08.94; Snowflake, 4:09.73; Valley Christian, 4:15.34;

4X800 Meter Relay

Boys: Page, 8:19.70; Valley Christian, 8:20.98; Holbrook, 8:23.11;

Girls: Valley Christian, 10:05.99; Snowflake, 10:07.22; Thatcher, 10:16.50;

110-Meter Hurdles

Boys: Jordan Mowers, Snowflake, 15.07; Tyler Drescher, Pusch Ridge, 15.67; Thaddious Thurman, Odyssee Institute, 15.70;

Girls: Taylor Oliver, Benjamin Franklin, 15.58; Kaelyn Giarusso, Odyssey Institute, 15.78; Jacey Perkins, Show Low, 15.92;

300-Meter Hurdles

Boys: Brody Ryan, Chino Valley, 40.39; Conner Willis, Snowflake, 40.93; Steven Halls, Blue Ridge, 41.22;

Girls: Jacey Perkins, Show Low, 47.00; Jayci Ballard, Snowflake, 48.46; Taylor Oliver, Benjamin Franklin, 48.89;

High Jump

Boys: Wyatt Nicholas, Thatcher, 6-5; Zach Hohmann, Gilbert Christian, 6-4; Mason Mortenson, Snowflake, 6-4;

Girls: Aubrie Wilson, Show Low, 5-6; Kaelyn Giarusso, Odyssey Institute, 5-5; Sorochi Anderson, Valley Christian, 5-4;

Long Jump

Boys: Da’Merrion Person, San Tan Foothills, 21-2.5; Conner Willis, Snowflake, 21-2.5; Wyatt Nicholas, Thatcher, 21-2;

Girls: Lily Lundberg, Snowflake, 17-7; Kaelyn Giarusso, Odyssey Institute, 17-5.5; Delin Peterson, Benjamin Franklin, 16-7;

Triple Jump

Boys: Wyatt Nicholas, Thatcher, 45-7.75; Trace White, ALA-Anthem South, 45-0.5; Cody Jones, Thatcher, 44-7;

Girls: Lily Lundberg, Snowflake, 37-6.75; Jazmine Schrader, Pusch Ridge, 34-8; Felicity Lunt, Thatcher, 34-8;

Shot Put

Boys: Cain Trimble, Show Low, 52-11; Tanner Emery, Safford, 52-10; TaHaj Acoff, ALA-Ironwood, 51-6;

Girls: Emerald Kwinn, Sabino, 42-3.25; Jasmyn Rios, Safford, 40-8; Maleah Tucker, Thatcher, 36-1.5;


Boys: TaHaj Acoff, ALA-Ironwood, 169-9; Tanner Emery, Safford, 164-11; Carson Carrasco, ALA-Ironwood, 161-1;

Girls: Maleah Tucker, ALA-Ironwood, 126-7; Emerald Kwinn, Sabino, 124-9; Jasmyn Rios, Safford, 124.4.5;

Pole Vault

Boys: Dash Wasson, Crimson, 15-0; Mason Mortenson, Snowflake, 14-2; Ian Van Houten, Safford, 13-6;

Girls: Ava Sooter, Sabino, 10-0; Elizabeth Juist, Valley Christian, 9-9; Alyson Small, Crimson, 9-6;


Boys: Travis Mbuya, ALA-Ironwood, 176-10; Dawson Smith, Benjamin Franklin, 170-5; Ethan Heinrich, Valley Christian, 164-3;  

Girls: Caydence Cline, ALA-Ironwood, 118-7; Ashlyn Smith, Blue Ridge, 114-9; Danica McDonald, 112-3.

Brian M. Bergner Jr. has covered professional, collegiate and high school sports for more than 20 years. Follow him on Twitter @AzPreps365Brian. Have a story idea? Email Brian at