Freshmen, Sophomores Compete On Own Level

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It's not often in track and field that freshmen and sophomores are given the opportunity to put their skills to the test against athletes of their own age and experience.

Most often in Class 3A meets, the rookies and second year athletes must compete head to head against older and more seasoned junior and senior competitors.

Except for a talented few, that puts the younger athletes at a disadvantage.

But Saturday at Payson High School, first-and second-year athletes from around Arizona will gather to compete in the Payson Freshman-Sophomore Invitational Track and Field Meet.

The meet, Horn coach Chuck Hardt said, is being made possible by support from the Mogollon Sporting Association and the Payson Rotary Club.

The meet had its origins over 15 years ago as the Payson Rotary Invitational which was one of the premier varsity events in northern Arizona.

Rotary Club members annually turned out in droves to help coaches and officials run the competition. Rotary also provided a good deal of the financial support.

However, because of the declining condition of the Payson track facility several years ago, the meet was canceled and interest was never rekindled.

After a highly popular freshman/sophomore meet was put on the back burner at another Arizona high school, Hardt and his staff went looking for another meet to showcase Payson youngsters.

After deliberation, it was decided to re-establish the Payson Rotary Invitational as a freshman-sophomore meet.

The Mogollon Sporting Association supplied the funds necessary and Rotary members said they'd again help supply timers, judges and whatever manpower necessary.

"We are really grateful to both those organizations," Hardt said.

Saturday's competition will begin at 11 a.m. with the field events including shot put, discus, high jump, long jump and pole vault.

At noon, a 4x800 coed relay will be run.

Running events including the traditional sprints, hurdles, middle and long distance runs will begin at 12:20 p.m.

The meet wraps up later that afternoon with a 4x400 coed relay.

Except for the coed relays, the athletes will classified in the competition according to school year and sex.

The Lady Longhorns should be well represented with 15 girls in both the freshman and sophomore classes on the team. However, the PHS boys will be short handed. Only four sophomores are on the squad and no freshmen turned out when drills opened last month.

Awards will include medals for top individual finishers but no team trophies will be given.

Spectators are welcome free of charge.

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