Many spectators at the Sludge to the Judge homecoming race Friday afternoon came away impressed with the efficiency and professionalism of the event.
PHS coach Chuck Hardt said that feat would not have been possible without the assistance of a dedicated group of volunteers who banded together to ensure the youngsters were exposed to a first-class athletic experience.
The Mogollon Sporting Association threw its financial support behind the event allowing Hardt to give each youngster who participated a free steak dinner hosted later that afternoon by the PHS softball teams.
Don and Pat Heizer's day began early in the morning when both were on hand to help with the traditional team breakfast. Their duties continued on into the afternoon when both were at the finish line to help score and judge the event.
Pete Greer lent his expertise to the run by serving as the announcer at the finish line. Throughout the race, he kept the crowd informed of the progress with a type of play-by-play action. Once the runners crossed the finish line, he was there to identify each of the athletes, whether they were from Payson or Fountain Hills.
Hardt also thanked Joel Goode, and all his help at the Northern Gila County Sanitary District who opened the facility for the runners' use prior to the start of the race.
Dan Basinski helped acquire some much-needed race equipment, then served as a sweeper, driving his car behind the racers to pick up any injured athletes or those who couldn't finish the event.
True to his duties as a sweeper, Basinski tied a broom to the rear bumper of his car.
Payson Police also did a highly commendable job directing traffic around the race -- and later the parade -- to ensure both were accident-free.
Don Sweitzer and Norm Langeliers also volunteered, performing whatever tasks were needed.
Shirley Hardt, the coach's wife, was everywhere. During the morning hours, she opened the family home to the team for the breakfast. Later, she helped set up the course and then worked as volunteer photographer, recording the exploits of the runners.
Since the inception of the race, Justice of the Peace Ronnie McDaniel has served as a finish judge, warmly greeting the youngsters as they complete the race. He also contributes the very nice plaques that are awarded to the individual winners of each event.
The presence of the judge -- once a Longhorn standout athlete himself --lends a nice touch to the competition.
Coach Hardt said he and the team members are truly grateful for the support of all who pitched in to make the Sludge to the Judge an event the young athletes won't soon forget.
And congratulations to Chuck Hardt for not only coaching the two winning teams but also pulling off a nicely hosted cross-country meet that lent a unique flare to the homecoming festivities.
Two wheelin' fun
For the past year, a group of about 40 local motocross enthusiasts have worked to locate a track site where they can practice their sport of choice in a safe and secure environment.
The group, known as Payson Motor Sports, meets at 6 p.m. the first Tuesday of each month at the Payson Parks and Recreation Department located at Green Valley Park.
A member of the group, Richard Edgar, says he and others would like to work hand in hand with the Gila County Trails Association and then the Forest Service to find a location acceptable to all. Some of the locations being considered include those near Preacher Canyon.
Edgar says one of the group's goals is to find a site that would not create any pressure on the environment or conflict with other sports like horseback riding and hiking.
Call Edgar at 472-1054 or Lamoine Swenson at 474-3017 for more information about Payson Motor Sports and their quest to build a track.