Payson High School has long carried the track and field reputation as the home of some of the best shot-putters and discus throwers in the state.
Several of the former notables in the events, including Jon Gunzel, Julie Gunzel, Mike Barker, Nicole Engstrom and Jeremy Hoff, continue to hold meet, conference and school records.
Like they have in previous years' throws, coaches Pete Greer and Dan Sweitzer are molding another crop of promising young athletes.
The coaches will have the opportunity to see how the new crew measures up to the state's best when the team travels March 25 to the prestigious Chandler Rotary Invitational. There, the local athletes will be pitted against the best throwers from the southwestern United States.
Several years ago, the PHS track and field program -- although it represents a small, rural high school --was able to earn an invitation to the meet primarily because the team sported some of the state's best athletes.
With the invite in hand, the team is allowed to enter two athletes in each event. A third is allowed only if the trackster meets minimum qualifying stands for distance or time.
The only throws event in which the Longhorns will be able to enter three representatives will be the girls' discus. Set to participate are Kaitlin Wilkins, Sarah Hummer and Sundae Shill. All three have met the Chandler qualifying standards for girls of 90 feet.
The boys' discus standard of 120 feet means the Horns can enter only Sterling White and Everett Lenhart.
Qualifying standards in the shot-put are 30 feet for girls and 45 feet for boys.
Payson's girls representatives in the shot-put will be Wilkins and Jocie Gressley.
Entered in the boys' competition are White and Chris Konop.
Gressley enters the Chandler meet fresh off a shot-put victory at the Arizona Boys Ranch Cactus Classic where she uncorked a throw of 33 feet 1 1/2 inches.
In the girls' discus, Shill was the Lady Horn leader with a mark of 99 feet, 1 inch.
As the Horns' ace shot-putter, White unleashed a heave of 46 feet, 2 1/4 inches at the Cactus meet.
In the discus, White has thrown 120 feet, 6 inches.
Success in the throws at the Chandler meet, Greer predicts, will be tough to come by, but the stiff competition there should bode well for the charges when the state finals role around May 12 and 13.
Like the Rotary Invitational, the state showdown will be held on the campus of Chandler High School.