A trio of veteran performers will lead the Longhorn track and field team into the state tournament today (Friday) at Chandler High School.
Sterling White, Jeremy Lee and David Shaw stamped themselves as the Horns top guns by earning multiple state seeds at the East regional championships held last week at Blue Ridge High School in Lakeside.
To gain a berth to the state finals, athletes must finish among the top four in their events at the Class 3A conferences four regional championship meets.
Athletes can also advance to state by meeting preselected outside qualifying standards.
White will represent Payson and the East division at state in the shot-put, discus, high jump and as the third runner on the 4x100 relay team. Also on the squad are Danny Malloy, Brandon Johns and Alex Cassuo.
Lee advances to Chandler in the 3,200 meters, 800 meters and as a member of the 4x800 relay team. With him are Wes Sprinkle, Martin Garcia and Daniel Jacobs.
Shaw will participate in the 100 meters, 200 meters, 400 meters and on the 4x400 relay team. Also on the relay foursome are Danny Malloy, Andrew Easton and Meikle Garrett. Easton also qualified for state in the 300-meter hurdles.
State track and field action wraps up tomorrow evening with the crowning of the 3A champion.
With a limited number of state qualifiers, the Longhorns are certainly no threat to bringing the state championship home, but do have the athletes to post creditable points on the final tally sheet.
At the East regional championships, the Longhorns -- battling a lack of depth --were able to give a darn good accounting of themselves finishing third behind runner-up Show Low and champion Blue Ridge.
The Yellow Jackets racked up 154 points, Show Low had 114 and Payson 96.
If there was a glowing highlight in the Payson team performance, it might have been the last gasp shot-put heroics of White.
According to PHS throws coach Pete Greer, White won the event on his final throw, uncorking a personal record heave of 50 feet, 11 inches. The Payson strong man was earlier pushed to the limits by Blue Ridge's D. J. Michael who led all competitors going into the final throws. Michael's mark of 49 feet, 7 inches was a whopping five feet better than his PR, Greer said.
White's best throw represented just the second time he has surpassed the magical 50-foot barrier in competition.
All season, the PHS junior has proven to be a multitalented performer and the regional competition was no exception.
Competing for the first time this season in the high jump, White finished fourth with a leap of 5 feet 8 inches.
It's not very often in prep track circles an athlete has the strength to compete in the throws event, the technique and lift to high jump and the speed to run the sprint relay. White is blessed with all those skills.
Another athlete who proved he's a versatile performer was Shaw. Usually entered in the short sprint events, the speedster has not competed in the grueling 400 meters this season. Overcoming his inexperience, Shaw won the regional championship, turning in a clocking of 52.002. Only steps behind was Holbrook's Nate Mehr (52.235).
East regional results
1st Sterling White 50-11
6th Brandon Johns 42.3.5
4th Sterling White 128-5
7th Everett Lenhart 119-1
7th Meikle Garrett 36-5.25
4th Sterling White 5-8
6th Alex Cassuto 10-6
8th Lucas Schmidt 9-6
4th Jeremy Lee 10:50.784
8th Wes Sprinkle 11:45.305
110M high hurdles
5th Meikle Garrett 16.440
2nd David Shaw 11.639
8th Andrew Easton 12.340
8th Jeremy Lee 05.05.146
1st David Shaw 52.002
300M int. hurdles
4th Andrew Easton 42.872
8th Meikle Garrett 44.240
3rd Jeremy Lee 02:05.539
1st David Shaw 22.973