With 15 gold medals -- four from Rheanna Martinez -- the Lady Longhorn track and field team's home debut Wednesday afternoon was a roaring success.
Riding the crest of the first-place finishes and a host of other medal-winning efforts, the Rim country cinder squad ran out to a meet-dominating 185 points. Heber Mogollon finished second with 71 and Globe was third with 50. Camp Verde, once a force to reckon with on the state track scene, tallied a minuscule eight points.
Martinez's run to glory was highlighted by a school-record leap of 17 feet, 1 1/2 inches in the long jump. The previous mark, set by Lady Horn senior Stephanie Robertson in 1998, was 16 feet, 10 inches.
Martinez's feat was only a signal of things to come. In the triple jump, the high flyin' sophomore soared 34 feet, 8 3/4 inches. Later, in the 100-meter dash, she again dominated the opposition with an event-winning 13.43. About the only test Martinez received in the sprint was from teammates Sara Schmidt and Samantha Ellsworth. Schmidt was second (14.04) and Ellsworth third (14.07).
Martinez wrapped up her perfect showing on the day by anchoring the 4x100 relay to a very easy victory in 53.89.
By recording the clocking on a slow dirt track at a 5,000-foot-plus elevation, the 4x100 relay squad stamped itself as the odds-on favorite to win the 4x100 event at the state championships when they are contested May 16 on the campus of the University of Arizona in Tucson.
Adding more creditability to the squad's performance was a Class 3A-best 52.10 effort turned in at last week's Glendale Invitational Track and Field meet. In addition to being the state's 1999 top time, the clocking earned the squad an outside qualifying berth to the state championships.
On the relay team Wednesday were Katie Langeliers, Schmidt, Ellsworth and Martinez.
On the team at Glendale were Brianna Marshall, Langeliers, Ellsworth and Schmidt.
The highly talented Robertson -- fresh off a stirring victory in the Glendale Invitational heptathlon over five opponents representing Class 5A schools -- ran, jumped and threw her way to three gold medals and one silver.
Her performances had to send a tinge of regret through the befuddled Camp Verde staff and team. As a freshman, Robertson was a highly promising athlete on the CV track and field squad, but later moved to Payson, where she's gone on to state and national glory.
The seeds of her heptathlon success, she said, were sown in Camp Verde when she was a rookie to the sport of track and field.
Robertson's victories on Wednesday came in the 200 meters (27.42), 400 meters (63.97) and shot put (33 feet, 8 1/2 inches).
In the long jump, her leap of 16 feet, 3 inches was second only to Martinez's school-record effort.
The Lady Longhorns' domination of the meet was reflected in the pole vault. By vaulting to the top five finishes, the Horns proved they have the team depth to possibly wrestle the state title away from Safford at the 3A track and field championships.
The Lady Bulldogs have won the state title a national record 12 consecutive years and are looking to continue their run with a strong stable of sprinters and jumpers.
The pole vault is one of the events where the Lady Horns have a chance to outperform Safford.
Shawna McCarty topped the Lady Horn vaulters' efforts by clearing 8 feet, three inches. Trailing her was elated freshman April Cheek, who loudly proclaimed "that's my best" when she soared over the bar at 7 feet, 2 inches.
Katie Smoyer was third (6 feet, 8 inches), Shaina Vaught fourth and Amy Davis fifth. Vaught and Davis, both freshmen, cleared 6 feet, 2 inches but Vaught finished in front because of fewer misses.
The Lady Horns return to action Friday in the windy city of Winslow at the Bulldog Invitational. The meet will be the team's final tuneup for the regional championships, to be held May 7 and 8 at Arizona Boys Ranch in Queen Creek.
More results from last Wednesday's four-way meet in Payson:
- High Jump: Glori Ollson, 3rd, 4-10; Sarah Hummer, 4th, 4-2;
- 1600 M: Stefanie Ray, 1st, 6:22.10;
- 400 M: Leighanne Haynes, 2nd, 67-93;
- 4x100: Payson 1st, Katie Langeliers, Sara Schmidt, Samantha Ellsworth, Rheanna Martinez, 53-81;
- Discus: Sundae Shill, 2nd, 92-7; Kaitlin Wilkins, 3rd, 92-7; Lyndsey Heizer, 5th, 90-11;
- 300: Sara Schmidt, 1st, 52-19;
• Hurdles: Samantha Ellsworth, 52-32;
- Long Jump: Stephanie Robertson, 2nd, 16-3;
- 800 M: Katie Langeliers, 1st, 2:41.38; Katie Smoyer, 3rd, 2:48.13; Michelle Closs, 4th, 2:55.14; Rachelle McGee, 5th, 2:56.75;
- 3200: Katrina Beeler, 1st, 15:06.48;
- Triple Jump: Glori Ollson, 3rd, 28-9; Lyndsey Heizer, 4th, 28-1; Jocie Gressley, 5th, 27-9;
- 4x400: Payson 1st, Michelle Closs, Leighanne Haynes, Katie Langeliers, Katie Smoyer, 4-43;
- Shot Put: Stephanie Robertson, 1st, 33-8 1/2; Kaitlin Wilkins, 2nd, 31-10 1/2; Jocie Gressley, 4th, 28-9;
- 4x800: Payson 1st, Katrina Beeler, Lily Flores, Michelle Closs, Leighanne Haynes.