BARSTOW Hesperia has a perennially strong track program and it's always a challenge to compete against the Scorpions. On Thursday, the Barstow girls rose to meet that challenge.


Hesperia came to town and made an expectedly strong showing, handing the Aztec boys a 113-22 loss. As for the Lady Aztecs, they battled until the very end and wound up with a 71-66 win, at Barstow High School.


"Hesperia has an excellent overall track and field program and going into this meet, we told the kids that everyone is going to have to dig deep to pull it off," said Aztecs head coach Mike Esposito. "The girls did, and pulled off a remarkable upset to improve to 5-0 this year. We had a couple of girls out of the line-up and missing events, so I was very proud of how they responded to their adversity."


The Lady Aztecs racked up an impressive amount of first-place finishes, starting with the throwing events. In discus, Vanessa Robinson was first with a throw of 80.1, and also took the top spot in shot put at 30.11, with Vasa Alefaio right behind at 29.11.


In pole vault, Elizabeth Ince was first at 7'6". Jazzy McClendon was first in long jump at 14'4", with Autumn Hazlette second at 14'3". Hazlette captured first place with a triple jump of 30.6, with Noemi Martinez right behind at 30.4. In high jump, Hazlette and Maxine Cooks were both just short of first, with jumps of 4'6".


As for the running events, Dominique Kelly finished first in the 100 at 13.31, followed by teammates Sharon Green (13.37) and Katie Long (13.66). Chyna Irvin was second in the 1600 at 6:50.6, and Kaylen Smith was second in 110 HH at 18.86, right on the heels of Hesperia's Amber Verala at 18.72. Smith also was second in the 300 IH at 56.37. Kelly was second in the 200 at 28.25, with Martinez third at 29.06. Kayla Theis was third in the 400 at 114.96.


The Barstow girls' time of 55.71 just edged out the Scorpions' time of 55.97 in the 4x1 relay.


"On the boys side of things, many of our boys hit personal bests for the season and they gave everything they had, but Hesperia is absolutely loaded with middle distance and long distance runners, as well as field events, so it was a tough day for the boys," said coach Esposito. "They're 4-1 now and are improving every day."


There were a couple of first-place Aztecs. Cory Garcia won pole vault at an even 10', with Kyle Reeves second at 9'6". Dequan Newell was tops in discus with a throw of 130.20, while Marquis Jones was third at 106.60.


There was tough competition in the 1600, with Frankie Baca placing third at 5.12. The Scorpions' Jose Mendoza was first at 5.08. James Noble was second in the 100 at 11.41, with Oshua Rothwell right behind at 11.44. The pair also combined for second and third in the 200, with Noble at 23.60, and Rothwell at 24.64.


The Aztecs begin Desert Sky League competition next week, starting with a home meet against Burroughs on Thursday. That meet will tell the Barstow athletes a lot about where they stand, according to Esposito.


"This will be a true test for both our boys and girls," said the coach. "The winner of the meet will be in the driver's seat for the DSL championship."