Armed with a roster full of qualifiers, the Lady Longhorn track and field team begins pursuit this weekend of a state championship three-peat.
Those athletes came courtesy of a powerful display of speed and strength at the East regional championships held May 4 and 5 in Lakeside. By dominating the East region meet with a whopping 326 points, the Lady Horns qualified athletes in almost every state event.
Top four individual finishers in the four regional meets held around the state earn seeds to state.
East runner-up Snowflake (223) and bronze-medalist Blue Ridge (134) will be advancing to the finals but with much fewer qualifiers than the Lady Horns.
Athletes can also earn outside qualifying berths to state by exceeding certain event standards during the course of the regular season.
Among those who qualified for state during the past campaign are Whitney Hardt (3,200 meters) Michelle Closs (800 meters) and the 4x800 relay team.
With good numbers of qualifiers from the East championships and the regular season, the Lady Horns could be the most well-represented high school at state.
Among those set to represent Payson in the championships are a trio of athletes Reanna Martinez, Whitney Hardt and Leighann Haynes who qualified in the maximum four events.
Martinez is slated to participate in the long jump, triple jump, 100 meters and 200 meters. She enters the finals as the East champion and defending state champion in each of the events.
Hardt, only a freshman, is eligible to participate in the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs and on the 4x800 relay team that set a school record (9:41.78) at the Winslow Invitational April 27.
Haynes has state qualified in the 800 meters, 1,600 meters and on both the 4x400 and 4x800 relay teams.
Among the Lady Horns' strengths at state will be the 800-meter run in which the team has five qualifiers Amy Davis, Brooke Bennett, Closs, Hardt and Haynes.
Hardt, Bennett, Hayes and Davis swept the top four finishes at the East regional championship. Closs did not participate because she had already qualified
Other state participants include Samantha Ellsworth (4x100 relay, 100 hurdles), Shalynn McGee (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles), Closs (4x100 relay, 4x400 relay), Kaitlin Wilkins (shot-put, discus), Davis (pole vault), Bennett (4x800), April Cheek (pole vault), Briauna Marshall (400 meters, 4x100 relay, 4x400 relay), Rachelle McGee (300 hurdles).
Marshall advances to state as the 400-meter school record holder, having turned in a 59.5 event-winning clocking at the East championships.
The 3A championships will be contested today (Friday) and Saturday in Chandler.
More results from Winslow Invitational
Shot Put Sterling White, 2nd, 50.0.
High Jump Blake Whetten, 8th, 5-10.
1600 Meter Jeremy Lee, 4th, 4:34.99.
Discus Sterling White, 3rd, 141.0.
Team Results 9th, 26.
1600 Whitney Hardt, 1, 5:26.41; Leighanne Haynes, 3rd, 5:31.28.
Pole Vault Amy Davis, 4th, 8.0; April Cheek, 7th, 8.0.
Discus Keri Flake, 7th, 94-3.
Long Jump Reanna Martinez, 1st, 17-5.
3200 Relay Whitney Hardt, Michelle Closs, Brooke Bennett, Leighanne Haynes, 1st, 9:41.78.
100 Meter Dash Reanna Martinez, 1st, 12.625.
Shot-Put Kaitlin Wilkins, 8th, 32-7.
400 Meter Jenny Cohen, 2nd, 63.31; Michelle Closs, 3rd, 63.74; Amy Davis, 5th, 63.88.
400 Meter Relay Jana Knighton, Jenny Cohen, Brianna Marshall, Samantha Ellsworth, 1st, 52.319.
300 LH Brianna Marshall, 3rd, 48.524
Triple Jump Reanna Martinez, 1st, 35-0.
800 Meter Whitney Hardt, 2nd, 2:24.86; Leighanne Haynes, 5th, 2:26.99; Brooke Bennett, 6th, 2:27.33.
200 Meter Reanna Martinez, 2nd, 26.657.
3200 Meter Whitney Hardt, 1st, 12:03.99.
1600 Relay Shaylynn McGee, Amy Davis, Leighanne Haynes, Brianna Marshall, 1st, 4:17.98.
Payson, 1st, 143-1/2