Coming off of a pair of cross country state titles back in November, the Northland Prep Spartans enter their track and field season with a new mood around the program.

“I think the kids all together have been working well and are excited,” said Spartans head coach Missy Acker. “Their confidence level is a ton higher than last year's track season.”

Hosting their annual NPA Skydome Classic on Saturday, the Spartans competed against about 20 other small schools from around the state. Coconino did not compete at the meet this year, with its athletes at the Small School Invite in the Valley and Flagstaff sent just a few varsity athletes into competition, with the Eagles traveling to the Saunders Montague Desert Classic in Queen Creek one night earlier. However, Page's Bowen Martin did come away with wins in the boys 1600m and 3200m after also winning a Division III cross country state title with the Sand Devils in November.

After aiding the Spartans in their D-IV cross country state title repeat, Keelah Barger continued her success early in the new season with a victory in the 1600-meter run to start Saturday and another win in the 800m later in the afternoon.

The victories did not just come in the longer distances, as Alex Hayden came away with the victory in the 400m run for the boys team.

“It’s just contagious I guess would be the best way to say it,” Acker said. “They see the other kids working hard, like Alex today who won the 400. I think he’s been training hard because he knows this other group of guys is training hard and it just feeds each other. It’s really nice to see.”



The 2A Conference Spartans toppled the 3A Warriors on Saturday in Tuba City, scoring 20 runs for the second straight day.

After recording seven RBIs on Friday against Glendale Prep to open the Central Region slate, Jack Berger stayed hot at the plate, drove in six against Tuba City and helped his team improve to 3-0 to start the season off with three victories in as many days.

Berger tallied two of Northland Prep's five triples, went 4 for 4 and scored three runs against the Warriors, who had a two-game win streak come to an end while moving to 4-4.

Connor Barta pitched all four innings of the mercy-rule victory, in which his team scored eight runs in the third inning to make it a 15-0 ballgame before closing it up with five runs in the top of the fourth. The freshman gave up just two hits, walked one batter and struck out six.

Barta was 3 for 4 at the plate with three RBIs and a triple. He also stole a base for the Spartans, who nabbed a total of 11 steals as a team.

According to the schedule on the AIA website, Northland Prep will take on 3A Holbrook on Monday to keep the stretch of road games going.

The Sun Sports staff added to this roundup.