Since the prep track and field season got off to a hard-chargin' start in February, it's been a rare week the Longhorns haven't participated in a Wednesday meet.
Reversing that trend, both the boys and girls PHS teams have this practice week a brief respite from competition to prepare for the Chino Valley Invitational to be held Saturday, April 7.
In Chino with Payson will be Chandler Seton, Fountain Hills, Northwinds Academy, Flagstaff Coconino and host CV.
PHS coach Chuck Hardt expects Coconino to provide the Longhorn teams their stiffest cinder test yet.
"They are a (Class) 4A team with some good athletes," he said.
With no Wednesday meet and provided good weather prevails Hardt and his staff will up the tempo of this week's practice.
"We'll increase the volume, keep the intensity high, and then back off a little next Monday to prepare for Blue Ridge (April 12 in Lakeside),"Hardt said.
Although the Horns will be focusing all their energies on the showdown in Chino, the team will not be at full strength since several of the older athletes will be taking the ACT tests that day.
In Apache Junction
The last time the Horn teams were in action was a three-way meet March 28 at Skyline High School. There, the two-time defending state champion Lady Longhorns easily ran away with the title over Scottsdale Coronado and host Skyline. Payson racked up 101 points, Skyline had 41 and Coronado 38.
In the boys competition, the Horns (43 points) had to settle for a distant second behind Skyline (101). Coronado trailed with 36 points.
During the meet, the philosophy unveiled by the Horn coaching staff was to test the athletes in several different events.
"Jumpers have to jump and hurdlers have to hurdle, but we did do some different things," Hardt said.
The main changes involve the running events. The reasoning behind the changes was to give the athletes a break from the nuances of their usual events and also to help condition them for regional and state showdowns in May.
One of the flip-flops made was to the record-setting 4x800 relay team of Leighann Haynes, Michelle Closs, Brooke Bennett and Whitney Hardt. Instead of their usual 3,200-meter event, the team entered the 4x400 relay
The foursome which set a 4x800 school record March 24 (9:50.40) at the Chandler Invitational responding by winning the 4x100 in 4:21.
In the 4x800 at Chino, Ashli Herrera and Lily Flores replaced Bennett and Hardt on the team. The altered squad still won the event in 10:50.
Also in Chino Valley, Blake Whetton a junior in his first year of track competition established himself as one of the better high jumpers in the 3A conference by winning the event with a leap of 6 feet.
"That puts him near the top of the leader list," Hardt said.
Results from meet at Skyline High School
4x800 Danny Malloy, Daniel Jacobs, Wes Sprinkle, Jeremy Lee, 2nd, 8.51
100 Will Gnagi, 4th, 12.5
1600 Wes Sprinkle, 3rd, 5:04
400 Danny Malloy, 3rd, 54.5; Brandon Peters, 4th, 56.5
800 Jeremy Lee, 1st, 2:06
300 Hurdles Chris Donaldson, 3rd, 45.2
Discus Sterling White, 1st, 142.7; Lucas Schmidt, 2nd, 117.0
Shot Put Sterling White, 1st, 48-1/2
Long Jump Blake Whetton, 3rd, 17.10
High Jump Blake Whetton, 1st, 6.0; Chris Donaldson, 4th, 5.4
Pole Vault Matt McCarty, 3rd, 10.0
100 Reanna Martinez, 1st 13.3; Jana Knighton, 2nd, 13.8
110/100 Hurdles Samantha Ellsworth, 2nd, 17.3; Shay McGee, 3rd, 17.9
1600 Whitney Hardt, 1st, 5.41; Leighanne Haynes, 2nd, 5.47; Lily Flores, 4th, 6.13
4x100 Sam Ellsworth, Brianna Marshall, Michelle Closs, Reanna Martinez, 1st, 53.5
400 Jenny Cohen, 3rd, 65.2; Brooke Bennett, 4th, 66.5
800 Whitney Hardt, 1st, 2.27; Brooke Bennett, 2nd, 2.30
300 Hurdles Shay McGee, 1st, 51.2; Samantha Ellsworth, 3rd, 51.9; Brianna Marshall, 4th, 52.6
Discus Kaitlin Wilkins, 1st, 102.4; Jocie Gressley, 3rd, 96.11; Hillari Hardt, 4th, 96.9
Shot Put Jocie Gressley, 2nd, 32.8; Kaitlin Wilkins, 3rd, 32.6-1/2
Long Jump Reanna Martinez, 1st, 17.2; Ann Worthen, 3rd, 13.5-1/2
High Jump Shalynn McGee and Vanessa McGlothin tie, 3rd, 4.2
Triple Jump Michelle Closs, 2nd, 30.2
Pole Vault April Cheek, 1st, 7-6; Amy Davis, 2nd, 7.6