The Paradise Valley Track Team traveled to their first official indoor track competition on Thursday, February 1st. The meet is taking place at Iowa State University’s indoor track facility on Saturday, February 3rd. A total of six distance runners will look to run some fast times and qualify for indoor nationals. 

The group flew out of Mesa Gateway airport at approximately 7:30am, and landed in Cedar Rapids, Iowa at 11:30am shortly followed by a two hour drive to Ames, Iowa. Coach Barney, the head track & field coach at Paradise Valley, selected three men and three women to travel and compete in the highly competitive meet. 

The three male athletes that traveled to Iowa are Sophomore Nathan Pestka, Freshman Dallon Walker and Sophomore Caleb Villegas. All three athletes will be running the mile on Saturday evening. Caleb Villegas elaborated on what it meant to be selected to travel to this meet. “This is going to be a great experience for me to be able to travel on this trip. Not being selected to go last year was tough, but I’m glad to see that the hard work is starting to pay off. It’s really cool that I’ve been chosen for this opportunity.” Caleb goes on to talk about the progression he’s had in this last year and how much he has improved. Caleb mentioned his goal for Saturday would be to run 4:20, however he is also eyeing the national indoor qualifying mark of 4:18.22. 

The three female athletes that traveled to Iowa are Sophomore Jazmin Estrada, Freshman Keria Damron and Freshman Makenzie Bethancourt. Jazmin and Makenzie will be teaming up in the mile, while Keira will be the lone Puma in the 3000 meter run. All three women have already qualified for nationals in the 1000 meter, while Keria is qualified in the mile as well. Coach Barney talked about the improvement on the women’s squad within the last year. “It’s great that I can finally bring some talented girls on this trip. The last couple years I haven’t been able to take women that would be competitive in this meet, but I am more than pleased to bring three girls this year. I’ll be excited to see how they will perform in their respective races”. 

Coach Barney also talked about why a big reason the Pumas travel to this meet is his connection to the university. The head track & field coach at Iowa State, Jeremy Sudbury, is a Paradise Valley alumni and ran for Coach Barney from 2007-2009. Coach Barney has also sent multiple athletes to transfer to ISU after their time at PVCC. 

This will be Paradise Valley’s first indoor competition, as the next meet will be at the University of Arkansas on February 17th, followed by the NJCAA Indoor National Championships on March 1st-2nd. The Pumas will look to improve their personal marks while also getting qualifying times for the national championship.