Hoping to get a running start into the state finals, Payson High School track and field coach Chuck Hardt packed up nine of his premier athletes Friday and headed to Tucson for competition in the Willie Williams Classic.
Hardt's motivation was twofold. First, he wanted some of his tracksters to have the opportunity to outside qualify for the state tournament.
Second, he wanted the athletes to be able to preview Tucson and the University of Arizona track facilities where the Class 3A state championships will be held May 14 and 15.
To outside qualify for state, athletes must exceed predetermined time, distance or height requirements in their events. Those standards are usually plenty tough, ensuring the athlete will be competitive in the state environment.
Athletes who do not outside qualify, can earn a berth with top four finishes in the five division tournaments in the conference.
Among the three PHS boys' athletes who traveled to Tucson, only Heath Boyle met qualifying standards turning in a 2:03.51 clocking in the 800-meter run.
In the girls' contingent of nine, five state-qualifying standards were met.
Rheanna Martinez nailed down state berths in both the 100-meter dash and the triple jump. In the 100, she was clocked in 13.04. Her triple jump was measured at 35 feet.
Stephanie Robertson met credentials in the 300-meter hurdles in 48.45 and long jump with a leap of 16 feet, 9 1/2 inches.
The 4x400 relay team of Robertson, Martinez, Katie Langeliers and Brianna Marshall also qualified in 4:20.65.
Those who did not qualify were Marshall (400 meters; 63:42), Langeliers (400 meters; 66.05), Shawna McCarty (pole vault; 8 feet and 800 meters; 2:46), Martinez (long jump; 16 feet, 4 inches) and Robertson (shot-put; 34 feet, 2 1/2 inches).
Among the boys, David Shaw didn't meet qualifying marks in the 200 meters, running the distance in 23:40. Andrew Easton came up short in the 300-meter hurdles in 44.84.
The 4x400 relay team of Mike Sprinkle, Easton, Shaw and Boyle also failed to earn a state seed in a clocking of 3:39.38.
The preliminaries of the meet were held Friday at Catalina Football High School. The finals were held Saturday on the campus of University of Arizona.