Fresh off a 72-50 loss to Wisconsin-Whitewater in the title game of Division II National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament, the Banner Wheelchair Suns are set to visit the Rim country.
While in Payson April 21, the team will not be playing for national honors, but rather to benefit the Town of Payson's Americans With Disabilities Act Committee.
All proceeds earned from the sixth annual benefit game which tips off at 7 p.m. in Wilson Dome will be used to buy books, equipment and other materials for local individuals with special needs, ADA chairperson Peggy Reed said.
The game will pit the Suns wheelchair team which is co-sponsored by the Phoenix Suns and Banner Healthcare against a Payson Hot Wheels squad that will be made up of representatives from several Rim country businesses.
On the Hot Wheels team are: Kelly Martin, APS; Maico Amon, Amon Builders; Waylon Quotskuyva, Mazatzal Casino; Ed Bryan and John Varljen, Mogollon Health Alliance; Scott Nossek and Jared Tenney, Payson Physical Therapy; and Russell Judd, Payson Regional Medical Center.
Days Inn, Wal-Mart, Payson Care Center and Payson Concrete are also expected to enter players in the game.
In addition to the spirited hardwood clash, the festivities will include halftime entertainment from the Rim Country Middle School band, the Rhythm Dancers and a raffle.
The Phoenix Suns' clown, "Bubbles," is also expected to participate.
Advance tickets, free-of-charge, are available from all Hot Wheels team sponsors. Admission at the door is $1. Children 12 years and under will be admitted free.
Payson track in AJ?
As odd as it sounds, the Payson Rotary Freshman/Sophomore Track and Field Invitational will be held in Apache Junction.
Last spring, the meet was moved from Payson to AJ because of the deteriorating condition of the PHS track.
Although the high school facility is slated to undergo a facelift and be outfitted with an all-weather running surface, work has not yet begun on the improvements.
So, once again, the Rotary meet will be held on the campus of Apache Junction High School.
One of the problems with hosting the April 20 meet at AJHS is the logistics of getting equipment, meet officials and athletes to AJ. Last year, several volunteers stepped up to help with the meet. Volunteers traveled to AJ to help measure, take times, pick finishers and oversee the proceedings.
Anyone interested in helping this season should call coach Chuck Hardt at 474-2233.
Decades ago, the Rotary Invitational was one of the finest small-town track and field meets in Arizona.
But due to the poor condition of the PHS track facilities, the meet gradually lost its luster.
Sadly, in the mid-1990s, the once prestigious meet went by the wayside.
Years ago, the PHS coaching staff poured their energies into rejuvenating the meet as an event for first- and second-year tracksters.
In the current format, freshmen compete against freshmen and sophomores against sophomores. That allows the fledgling athletes a stage on which they can test their skills and abilities against others of their own age and experience.
What makes the meet fun for spectators and athletes is that some of the events, usually the relays, are coed.
Not many invitationals feature boys and girls on the same relay teams.