Sports & Recreation

New Coach Rebuilds Salt River High School Track Team

By Dustin Hughes

Au-Authm Action News

“Hard! … Don’t lean, run tall! … Adriana, let’s go! … Runner on your mark, get set, go! … Light!”

Shouting these remarks all over the field to athletes seems to be no big deal to coach Russel Stanbery, who trains the Salt River High School (SRHS) track and field athletes.

“It is difficult, but I’ve gotten used to it. I had to do the same thing on the Navajo Reservation,” says Stanbery, who is in his first year of coaching at Salt River. He has seen a lot in his 12 years of coaching at different levels, including collegiate coaching in Washington and coaching in the desolate Sanders area in Apache County in northern Arizona. In addition to coaching the SRHS track team, Stanbery coaches football and teaches math for the Salt River Junior High students. His goal is to develop a solid track program, and even have one established at the junior-high level so the students know what to expect when they compete at the high-school level.

Last year, SRHS did not field a track team because they had no coach. “We petitioned to have a coach, but I guess it didn’t work, so we didn’t get a chance to compete [last year],” said track athlete Daniel Lopez. Lopez, who transferred from Basha High School in Chandler to Salt River in his sophomore year, is a very fast middle-distance runner and has a good shot at competing in the state finals.

Lopez explained, “There was a bunch of us runners, and our coaches were awesome and we had a lot of fun [competing], but they left the following year, so that’s why we had to do the petition.” In his final year at SRHS, Lopez will look to walk on and try out for basketball or track once he completes his mission.

The track team currently consists of 10 athletes and the season is at its midpoint. Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community members, parents and students are invited to attend the several remaining track events in the season to cheer on the Salt River athletes as they compete and try to qualify for the state finals. Contact Shawn Lytle for locations and times at (480) 362-2021.

To learn more about the SRHS track and field program, coaching, and how to support the SRHS track team, email

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