Payson's Top 10

Athletes who made headlines in 1999


The list of the Rim country's Top 10 athletes for the 1999 year includes a bevy of accomplished locals who reaped in long lists of honors as most valuable players, state champions, national record-setters and gold-medal winners.

The sports in which the athletes excelled includes bicycling, collegiate baseball, power-lifting, football, basketball, wrestling and track and field. Here are the Top 10 athletes for 1999, in alphabetical order.


Football, wrestling, track and field

During his senior year, Barker accomplished what only a few prep athletes have ever even attempted --he was a state champion in three sports.

On the 1998 state champion football team, Barker was an award-winning offensive and defensive lineman who was a strong candidate for the conference's player-of-the-year honors.

In wrestling, Barker was a defending state champion and seemed a shoo-in for a second successive 215-state crown. However, a serious shoulder injury suffered in mid-season ended his bid for an individual crown. He did, however, remain a team members as the Horns went on to win the state crown. By spring, Barker had recovered sufficiently from his injury to become one of the conference's best shot-putters and discus throwers. At the state championships, he won the discus with a throw of 161 feet, 10 inches.

Barker now attends Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott on an academic and sports scholarship.


Collegiate baseball

As the ace pitcher for California Lutheran College, former PHS baseball standout Tom Canale led the Kingsmen last spring into a berth in the eight-team Division III World Series in Salem, Va.

In the tournament opener, Canale hurled Cal Lutheran to a 7-2 victory over Cortland College.

In the Western Regional Tournament held earlier in Austin, Texas, Canale pitched his way to Most Valuable Player honors.

Canale also had a no-hitter to his credit hurling Cal Lutheran to a 1-0 victory over the University of California at San Diego.

Nicknamed "Tommy Gun" at PHS, Canale is being wooed by professional scouts who have clocked his fast ball at 90 mph.

However, he plans to return to college for his junior year.



One of the most promising young calf and team ropers in Arizona, 18-year-old Kyle Conway took first place among the number-eight ropers at a United States Team Roping Championship national qualifying event held in Moab, Utah last February.

On the Arizona High School Rodeo Association circuit, Conway is a top-ranked roper as he was as a pre-teen in Arizona Junior Rodeo Association competition. Conway is currently mulling over several collegiate rodeo scholarship offers.

In addition to his rodeo endeavors, Conway was the starting quarterback on the Payson High School football team.



As a former national age-group bench-press champion, Jim Eskew is one of the nation's best power-lifters in the 56-60-year-old, 242-pound competition.

His bench-press of 405 pounds at a Senior Olympic event last summer in Phoenix exceeds the current national mark of 403 pounds. Eshew's lift, however, is not official because it was not done in front nationally-certified judges.

Eskew also hoisted 405 pounds at the Western United States Police Olympics held in Scottsdale last April. The lift, which earned him a gold medal, broke the 400-pound Police Olympic standard he had set a year earlier.

Eskew remains in training and hopes to set an official national bench-press standard next August at a meet in Colorado.

Eskew, a former body builder and volunteer strength-training coach at Payson High, is the chief jailer for the Gila County Sheriff's Department.


Special Olympics

At the Special Olympic World Games held in mid-July in Raleigh, North Carolina, David Frohme -- a longtime, award-winning Special Olympian in Payson -- leaped his way to first in the running long jump with a mark of 2.54 meters. In the 800 meters, he took third in 2:51:59 besting runners from Norway and Luxembourg. Touring the 5,000-meter course in 27:03.52 he finished fourth.

Frohme has also excelled in Special Olympic winter games, swimming competition and has served as a volunteer coach on local school track teams.

Frohme is employed locally by Safeway.



Competing in what is billed as "the highest and toughest mountain bike race in the world," Gorry finished 13th of the 663 participants at the Leadville, Colo. 100-mile Trail Race.

In his age group (40-49), he finished second.

After finishing the race, Gorry said, it was the hardest thing he had ever done.

The Frontier Elementary School physical education teacher is also a former Arizona State mountain bike champion and a Payson Mayor's Cup race winner.

During his storied racing career, Gorry has entered almost every mountain bike challenge in the state and is widely regarded as one of Arizona's best. Gorry says he plans to re-enter the Leadville race and ride to the age group championship.


Volleyball, basketball, track and field

She's only a junior at Payson High, but Martinez has reaped about every prep sports honor possible. At the conclusion of the volleyball season, she was the only local player to be named to the 3A Conferences All-Tournament team.

At a National Junior Olympic basketball tournament in Phoenix last spring, she was named the fray's most valuable player. She also has won numerous all-tournament honors in basketball, the most recent at the Holiday Hoops tournament held last week in Payson.

She excels in basketball and volleyball, but some might argue her best sport is track and field. She is almost certain to receive collegiate scholarship offers this spring. At the 1999 state track championships in Tucson, Martinez won the long jump (17 feet, 4 1/4 inches) and the 100 meters (12.89). She also copped second in the triple jump and fifth in the 200 meters.


Volleyball, basketball, track and field

During her senior year at Payson High School, Robertson was named both all-state and all-star in both volleyball and basketball.

Her reputation as one of the state's best players in the sport often prompted opposing coaches to design defenses to thwart her skills.

When college scholarship offers began rolling in last spring, most were issued for her excellence in track and field. As one of the nation's top 10 heptathletes, Robertson now attends Northern Arizona University where she is a member of the Lumberjack team. At Payson High, she was a 300-meter state record-holder and held school records in both the long and high jumps.


Football, basketball, baseball

A longtime star athlete in Payson, Walden capped his senior year at Payson High School by first quarterbacking the Longhorn football team to the 1998 state championship.

An all-state basketball selection as a junior, Walden's senior season came to a screeching halt Jan. 23, 1999 when he tore a ligament in his knee that eventually required surgery. He returned in time last spring to help the baseball team earn its first state championship. Walden, a former state prep home-run record holder, was featured in the "Faces in the Crowd" section of Sports Illustrated.

Walden has turned down collegiate scholarship offers to go on a mission for his church.


Baseball, football

As a junior at Payson High School last spring, Zumbro pitched the Longhorn baseball team to its first state championship.

After finishing with a 12-4 record and a 3.06 ERA, Zumbro was chosen to the All-State first team. Zumbro also excelled at the plate for the Longhorns recording a team-leading .500 batting average.

Zumbro's reputation as a standout player earned him an invitation to an all-star baseball camp held at Stanford University last summer.

The teenager also starred in football earning both all-region and all-state honors the past two seasons.

After graduation this spring, Zumbro has his sights set on playing college baseball.

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