The success of Payson High School track and field teams which includes back-to-back state championship for the Lady Longhorns might be due in part to a highly dedicated coaching staff.
At least that's the point of view of many athletes, students, fans, parents and coach Chuck Hardt.
In the crew of six, Hardt carries the title of head coach, but insists members of his staff are not assistants, but rather co-coaches who oversee their specialties.
"We all bring our own piece to the program," Hardt said.
The paid staff includes Norm Langeliers, Ellie Hardt and Pete Greer. Volunteer coaches include Dan Sweitzer and Dan Reid.
Langeliers responsibilities center on the hurdles and sprints events. Ellie Hardt schools the middle and long-distance runners. Greer, also a PHS football coach, oversees the throws events which includes the shot put and discus. Sweitzer helps Greer with the throws events focusing much of his energy on the shot put.
Reid, a former PHS head track coach and a past president of the Arizona Track Coaches Association, works with the jumpers, hurdlers and sprinters. Even a casual observer of the program will notice how the kids thrive under the leadership of each of the coaches.
With many of the Payson High coaches bidding adieu for a variety of reasons, one of the real constants in the athletic program has been the track and field staff.
MSA tickets go on sale
The Mogollon Sporting Association will be hosting its 9th Annual Fund-raising Banquet May 12 at the Mazatzal Casino. A no-host cocktail hour at 5 p.m. will be followed by dinner and door prizes at 6 p.m. and an auction/raffle at 7 p.m. The meal consists of choice of prime rib or stuffed chicken breast. Tickets are $60, and those who purchase their tickets by April 1 will be entered in an early-bird drawing for a chance to win a Ruger 77-MK2 rife or a 14K gold amethyst and diamond ring.
The proceeds from the banquet benefit local youth and wildlife enhancement programs. Call (520) 474-3768 for tickets or more information.
Apparently the sports staff at the Arizona Republic didn't think much of the Payson High School basketball programs.
No Longhorn player was acknowledged Sunday when the Phoenix newspaper named its All-Arizona first, second and third teams. The honorable mention listings also failed to include any PHS players.
Usually, the 4A and 5A powers are the recipient of most of the accolades but some Payson players have been named in past years.
The newspaper did tap Winslow's Francine McCurtain as the "Small School Player of the Year."
The only female player representing the East region to be acknowledged was Round Valley's Nicole Hommel. She was tapped honorable mention.
Coolidge's Randy Youtsey was named the male "Small School Player of the Year," but no East region boys received honors.