With last fall's crowing of the Tonto Apache Track and Field teams as the Grand Canyon Games Athletes of the Year, the local squad will be serving as goodwill ambassadors at future events.
Among those will be the 2001 Winter Games to be conducted in Maricopa County and Flagstaff.
The games, a multi-sport Olympic Festival for amateur athletes of all ages and abilities, is affiliated with 43 other states which sponsor similar events.
Sponsored the past four years by 76/Circle K, the winter games feature competition in 19 sports including skiing, archery, basketball, wrestling, billiards, bowling, four-on-four flag football, in-line hockey and others.
Later this year, the Grand Canyon State Games will offer two additional sports competitions June 1 to 3 in Tucson and June 14 to 17 in metropolitan Phoenix.
Like they will at the winter games, the Tonto teams will serve as ambassadors at the Phoenix competition.
To compete in Winter Games
Participants must be residents of Arizona for at least 30 days prior to the first day of competition. Athletes will be placed in age/sex divisions in most sports offered. Entry fees average $10 to $20 for individual sports.
Team sports fees like lacrosse, which is $250 are higher. Organizers discourage entering more than one sport because of the competitive format and the possibility of overlapping schedules.
The skiing competition, which includes snowboard and snowshoe races, will be held Feb. 24 and 25 at both the Arizona Snowbowl and Flagstaff Nordic Center. Among the events to be offered are a slalom, giant slalom, and 5K and 10K Nordic races.
Call the Flagstaff Ski Team at (520) 773-9707 for more information.
Another popular winter offering of the GC winter games is the 5-on-5 youth basketball competition to be held March 9 to 11 at several high schools in the Phoenix area. Some games will also be played in the Arizona State University Recreation Complex.
In past years, the Rim country has been well represented in the tournament. Former Lady Longhorn basketball coach Jerry Daniels coached several squads in the fray as did Steve Rensch with a group from Tonto Village.
Daniels says he is considering taking a 14-years-and-under Payson team to this year's event.
Competition will be held in six boys age divisions and four girls divisions.
Call Debbie Moulton (480) 755-3930 or Chuck Colburn (480) 820-8656 for more information.
Another popular offering among Rim country athletes is the four-on-four flag football tournament. Both Duke Wilbanks and Ray LaHaye have coached youth teams in past events.
This year, the gridiron showdown will be held Feb. 23 to 25 on the Tempe Diablo Soccer Fields.
Boys competition will be held in four age groups from eight to 17 years.
An adult male tournament will be held in four divisions with teams grouped by age and experience.
Call Don Henderson (602)-617-6873 or Brett Anderson (602) 625-9460 for more information.
As the unofficial small town wrestling capital of the west, Payson has traditionally sent a gaggle of grapplers to the GC games.
This year should be no exception when an enthusiastic crew of Rim athletes head to Apache Junction Feb. 17 to wage mat wars against wrestlers from around the state.
Athletes will be grouped into one of 72 age/weight divisions for the competition.
High School rules, also called folk style, will be enforced.
Winners of the sixth- through eighth-grade and high school divisions will be presented a Triple Crown Award if they win the Winter Games tournament and the Freestyle and Greco-Roman tournaments to be held June 2 in Tucson.
Call Warren Applegate (602) 795-4835 for more information.
Olympic medals to champs
At the conclusion of each competition, Olympic-style gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded in all sports in each division.
As the main sponsor of the games, Circle K convenience stores have registration forms available. Circle K North manager Dale Strothman says he currently has registration books available for local customers. The books will stay on display through the end of June.
In addition to containing the registration forms, the books have a complete listing of all sports offered and the entry fees.
Call (480) 517-9700 for more information.