More than 300 of the best young athletes in Arizona, including a talented crew from Mesa Mountain View, converged on Payson High School last Saturday to participate in the Payson Rotary Freshman/Sophomore Track and Field Invitational.
By winning three of the four competitions, powerful Mountain View proved they are the all-sports tough guy in Class 5A athletics.
MV's run to gold began with the sophomore boys who topped the field with 197 points. Runner-up Flagstaff Coconino finished with 174. In the freshman boys' field, Mountain View continued to dominate, posting 230 points. Valley Christian (201) was second.
The Toros picked up their third team win of the day when the MV sophomore girls outscored second place Valley Christian by a 197-172 margin.
The only classification, the Mesa squad that failed to earn a gold was the freshman girls who finished a distant fifth.
For the Longhorns, the best effort came from the freshman girls, who won the competition compiling a whopping 258 1/2 points. Runner-up Cactus Shadows scored only 120 1/2.
Among the sophomore girls, substantial point production from Rheanna Martinez paced the team to a third place (144) finish.
The Longhorn boys struggled throughout the meet, finishing ninth among both the freshman and sophomores.
The less than desirable showing was to be expected -- the track team has only four underclassmen on its roster.
Martinez' domination of the freshman/sophomore meet was predictable since she's proven herself to be an able adversary against her varsity contenders.
In the 100-meter dash, she bested the runner-up by almost a full second, churning out a winning ET of 12.9. Her gold-medal long jump of 16 feet, 6 inches beat out the 13-foot, 9-1/2-mark of the runner-up.
Ironically, Martinez's closest competition came in an event she was a state placer in last year -- the triple jump.
The Payson star soared 34 feet, 6 3/4 inches but the silver medalist, a Flagstaff High athlete, was close behind with a jump of 31 feet, 9 3/4 inches.
Martinez capped her perfect track and field day by winning a fourth gold in the 4x100 relay.
Kaitlin Wilkins also turned in a sterling effort winning both the shot-put (32 feet, 6 1/4 inches) and the discus (102 feet, 1 inch).
Buoyed by ample depth that produced loads of team points, the Payson plebes received gold-medal performances from Mindy Dorris (shot put; 29 feet, 9 1/2 inches), Sundae Schill (discus; 90 feet, 9 inches), Lilly Florez (3,200 meters; 14:32) and the 4x100 relay team.
April Cheek earned silver medals in both the shot-put (26 feet, 9 1/2 inches) and the pole vault (7 feet).
Freshman and sophomore boys
There wasn't a lot of action for Payson fans watching the boys compete, but Jeremy Lee did provide cause for a smidgen of Rim country smiles with a second-place finish in the sophomore 1,600 meter run. Lee toured the course in 5:03, but was beaten by a Mountain View runner who sped through the course in 4:46.
The nine points the Payson freshmen earned were compiled by a third-place finish in the 4x800 relay and a fourth in the 4x400.
After a week free of competition, the Longhorn track teams return to action today, Friday, at the Bulldog Invitational in Winslow. The event will be the final regular season meet of the year.
Payson will join the rest of the Central division track and field teams May 7 through 9 at Arizona Boys Ranch in Queen Creek for the annual divisional finals.
Top four finishers there advance to the state finals May 14 and 15 at the University of Arizona in Tucson.