The Payson High School boys' track team pulled off one of the most bizarre championships recorded in prep sports.
Somehow, some way, the team was able to run, jump and throw its way to a first-place finish in the 24-team Arizona Boys Ranch Invitational Track and Field Meet without winning a single individual championship.
Coach Chuck Hardt said it's the first time in his career that he has witnessed a team being able to pull off such a victory.
Former PHS coach and Arizona Track Coaches' Association President Dan Reid said the only way to explain the highly unusual championship was team-depth.
The squad had enough athletes finish in second- through fifth-place to provide the points needed for the win.
Ironically, it was a fifth-place finish by Kaare Wagner in the 3200-meter run that pushed Payson over the top. The Horns won the meet with 72 points, Winslow was second with 68 1/2, Blue Ridge (56) was third and Snowflake (44) fourth.
Prior to the start of practice Monday afternoon, the coaching staff took turns congratulating the team on the storied accomplishment.
Throws coach Pete Greer told the story of an athlete who unselfishly passed up a friend's weekend wedding to participate. Had he gone to the wedding and not been at the meet to provide points, the team would not have won the championship.
Some think track and field is an individual sport in which athletes are victorious on their own merits. The boys' team victory at Boys Ranch proves otherwise.
Commander in chief
Also in track and field last week, senior Heath Boyle was elected President of the Longhorns Track Club.
An all-star clash
The Payson High School wrestling coaching staff pulled off a major coup in convincing the Arizona Coaches' Association to assign the annual Red vs. Blue All-Star match to Payson. Previously, it's been held on the campus of Arizona State University and in various venues in Phoenix.
Last year's all-star match in Payson went off without a hitch and was well received by ACA coaches and officials.
This year, it is expected to be equally successful, and organizers are hoping wrestling fans from around the Rim country will pack Wilson Dome at 6 p.m. Saturday evening for the match. A good crowd would go a long way toward influencing ACA members to bring the affair back to Payson again next year.
Some coaches in southern Arizona would like to see the match held in Tucson, where Salpointe and Sunnyside are resident Class 5A powerhouses.
Hosting it is a lot of work for coach Dennis Pirch and his staff but the all-star match is just the type of event Payson needs to showcase itself.
Athletes, parents and fans from around Arizona will be in attendance Saturday evening and most likely spend much of the weekend in our community.