Despite the school’s small size, Immaculate Heart High School has some of the top track and field athletes in Tucson.
Competing against schools such as Sahuaro, Santa Rita and Safford High School, senior Justine Mona and sophomore Amity Brown are holding their own. Mona, who’s been in track since her sophomore year, primarily competes in the triple jump, long jump, 300 hurdles, 100-meter and 200-meter.
Wanting to tackle a new event this year, Mona tried the triple jump - one of the more technically difficult events. Though it may have its difficulties, head coach Tom Danehy says that has not impacted no weight on Mona’s performance.
“She’s explosive. It’s very impressive how she does the triple jump. It looks like the college or world class athletes,” said Danehy. “She has the form down perfectly. It’s not my coaching either - she just does it right.”
But Mona’s skills don’t stop there. About a week ago, the Immaculate Heart track team traveled to San Manuel for a meet. Due to how small the team is, the athletes are often asked to compete in multiple events, some of which they’ve never tried. Danehy asked Mona to compete in the 300 hurdles for the first time.
“I told her to try and just get under a minute. She got under a minute with 57 seconds,” said Danehy, who added that three days later at the Bisbee Invitational she dropped her time to 53 seconds. “She’s got a God-given athletic ability. It’s a great combination to have that athletic ability and to work hard and try new things. A coach couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Along with track, Mona plays soccer, volleyball and basketball. She is a straight “A” student and will attend the University of Arizona next year where she plans to pursue a degree in either engineering or social justice. Whether she ends up playing a sport in college is yet to be determined.
“If I would play a sport in college I’d play soccer,” said Mona with a smile. “That’s my favorite sport.”
Not needing to make decisions concerning college yet, sophomore and teammate Amity Brown, is another athlete that has taken great strides in each of her track and field events. Her events include the 200-meter, 4x1, discus, long jump and her best event - the high jump.
Brown last ran track back in seventh grade. Even though she didn’t go out for her freshmen year, Brown’s natural athletic ability and competitive drive has helped her finish in the top spots in most of the events she’s competed in. Her best event is the high jump, which she currently remains undefeated in.
“It feels really good to be undefeated,” said Brown, who adds that she likes competing against the bigger schools. “Its really good to place against good people who I can potentially lose to, because that’s how I think I can learn. Playing against people better than me helps.”
In a recent meet, Brown went up against last year’s defending state champion from St. David High School. Both ended up tying for first at 5’2”. The state record is 5’6” and that is what Brown is striving to get to.
“She is very graceful - even when being six-feet-tall and just turning age 16,” said Danehy. “She’s got a toughness about her that’s really impressive.”
Moving forward, the two girls hope to compete against bigger schools and eventually reach state where they hope to claim a title.