The USA Track and Field Region 10 championships will shine with a decidedly Rim country flare when the competition tips off July 14, in Provo, Utah.
Ten local athletes have earned berths in the regional meet by placing among, top three at the Arizona State Championships held June 11 and 12 at Glendale Community College.
Trivia buffs might relish the fact that a trio of local qualifiers are all from one family. Whitney, Kari and Sherod Hardt are the children of Shaun and Ellie of Star Valley.
Further whetting the appetite of the trivia aficionado is the fact that the trio's parents are both former Longhorn track and field standouts. Shaun still holds the school mile-run record of 4:30.
The remaining Rim country Region 10 qualifiers are members of the highly successful Tonto Apache Track and Field team.
They include Justin Johnson, Michael Waterman, Anthony Johnson, Taylor Walden, Derrick Hoosava, Windsong Burdette and Ben Krieger.
In Provo, Whitney -- a star long-distance runner on the Rim Country Middle School team last season -- will participate in both the 1,500 and 3,000 meter runs.
At the state championships, in the Youth Girls, Whitney finished third in a hotly contested 1,500-meter run. At the finish line, only inches separated the top three runners.
Her time of 5:05.94 was nine seconds faster than what she turned in at the USA Track and Field National Meet in Seattle last summer.
In the 3,000 meters, Whitney again finished third in 12:12.
Kari will participate in the 1,500 meters in Provo after finishing third in the Midget Girls competition at the state finals.
In the Bantam Boys, Sherod enters the Region 10 meet as the state's bronze medalist.
The Tonto Apache Track team will send two state champions -- Walden and Krieger -- to Provo.
Krieger won the Young Men's shot-put event with a throw of 44 feet, 8 inches. Krieger has predicted that to win the Region 10 crown he'll need to record a throw close to 50 feet. Last season, Krieger finished 12th in the national finals of the shot-put.
Walden, who competes with the Youth Boys, travels to Utah as the state gold medalist in both the shot-put and discus. His winning heave in the shot-put was 43 feet, 2 inches. In the discus, he won with a toss of 132 feet, 3 inches.
Among Tonto's state silver medalists is Justin Johnson in both the shot-put and the race walk among the Bantam Boys. In the shot, he recorded a 19-foot toss.
The youngster's runner-up efforts in the race walk were particularly gratifying, Tonto coach Randy Pryor said, because it was the first time a tribal team member had attempted the unique event.
"It took a lot from him just to try the race walk," Pryor said.
Other qualifiers include Anthony Johnson (Youth Boys; third - javelin, 80 feet), Waterman (Youth Boys; second - shot-put, 35 feet, 5 inches; second - discus, 112 feet, 10 inches), Hoosava (Midget Boys; second - shot-put, 30 feet, 4 inches; second - discus, 77 feet, 5 inches) and Burdette (Young Women; second - discus, 61 feet, 10 inches).
Should any of the Rim country competitors finish among the top three in the Region 10 meet, they will be seeded into the USA National Championships, July 27 to Aug. 1 in Omaha, Neb.
Pryor said it was a Tonto Apache team goal for all seven regional qualifiers to advance to the national meet.
Whitney Hardt said she and her brother and sister are also practicing on a daily basis, intent on becoming national qualifiers.