By becoming the first female athlete in Arizona to win four individual state championships in back-to-back seasons, Reanna Martinez fueled the Lady Longhorns to their third consecutive Class 3A state title.
Friday and Saturday in Chandler, Martinez easily won the 100 meters (12.34), 200 meters (25.67), long jump (18 feet, 1 inch) and triple jump (37 feet, 5 inches). Her triple jump mark set a Class 3A state meet record.
Martinez's performance in Chandler was great, considering the pressure, Dan Reid said. Reid came out of retirement four years ago to help coach the youngster.
Riding the crest of Martinez's 56 team points, the Lady Horns cruised to the state three-peat, outdistancing 3A runner-up Safford 212-122.
Next season, Martinez will say goodbye to the Longhorn track program and take her high-flyin' act to Arizona State University in Tempe.
But in Payson, another track and field star is emerging in the form of freshman Whitney Hardt. At the state meet, Hardt anchored the Lady Longhorn 3,200-meter relay to a gold medal in 9:57.66.
She also was runner-up in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters closely behind Chino Valley senior Jodie Denike who is bound for Northern Arizona University on a track scholarship.
Hardt might have won the 3,200-meter run, one of her strongest events, had it not been for a critical error by meet officials.
In one of the most bizarre miscues ever witnessed in a state meet, the 3,200 meters covered seven laps around the Chandler High School track rather than eight. Losing track of the lap count, a meet official fired the gun at the conclusion of the sixth rather than the seventh lap.
When a mistake like that occurs, Reid a former Arizona State Track Coach Association president said, its counted as human error and the race results stand.
According to Reid, both Denike and Hardt were on pace to break the 11-minute barrier which would have propelled them to a national ranking.
In addition to exceptional performances from Martinez and Hardt, the Horns received a huge boost from Briauna Marshall who won the 400 meters in 60.15.
Last year, Marshall also won the 400-meter crown, but this season gave up the event to concentrate on the hurdles.