Last season, the Ironwood Ridge track and field boys' and girls' teams finished eighth and fifth in 5A-II state competitions.
This season, the Nighthawks cruised to championships on both sides. For Ironwood Ridge senior sprinter Jacque Povilaitis, the difference is obvious.
"This is the first year we've had really strong sprinters," said Povilaitis during the 5A-II regional meet.
The Nighthawks have been traditionally strong in distance events, and nothing changed this season.
Junior Steve Magnuson took the state title in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs.
The girls' team was even more overpowering, with sophomore Sarah Miville, junior Allison Crawford, senior Kat Howard, and sophomore Lauren Cooper placing first, second, third and fifth in the 3,200.
Crawford and Miville also placed first and second in the 1,600-meter run.
While this type of domineering distance performance is something that has come to be a Nighthawk trademark, Ironwood Ridge's young sprint and field teams showed flashes of brilliance at state as well.
In relay events, the boys took first place in the 4x800 event, and came in second in the 4x400.
The girls' relay teams also had success, taking second in the 4x800, third in the 4x400 and fifth in the 4x100.
In individual shorter events, junior Shane Bostick came in third in the 400-meter dash and senior Anthony Li took third in the 800-meter run for the boys' team.
For the girls, freshman Abbey Barbera was second in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, and junior Jaclyn Zibrat was fourth in 200.
Ironwood Ridge was equally formidable in the grass and on asphalt.
Junior Lauren Laszczak turned in a state championship performance in the high jump. Senior thrower and University of Arizona football recruit Jake Fischer came in third in the discus and fourth in the shot put.
Team championships and high individual placements draw much of the focus, but for Jaclyn Zibrat, this season, and Ironwood Ridge track meant much more than recorded statistics.
"I just feel like I feel good about myself because I'm good at it and it's something I look forward to," said Zibrat. "It's definitely not a task or anything."