Only a few years ago, Eloy's Levi Jones was playing football and basketball against the Payson Longhorns.
Saturday, Jones was taken 10th overall in the National Football League draft.
As the first-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals, Jones will command a multi-million dollar contract that will probably include a signing bonus of around $3 million. Next season, he'll have transformed himself from a two-way lineman performing on the playing fields of small-town Arizona high schools to a professional offensive tackle starring before thousands in a NFL stadium and on national TV.
What a rags-to-riches story that should surely inspire athletes from small 2A and 3A high schools.
Jones, who played at Arizona State, has said he will use some of his signing bonus to buy his mother a new home and car. She still lives in Eloy.
Former Payson High School track and field throws coach Dan Sweitzer just returned from a trip to the Valley where he took in both the Mesa and Sun Angel meets.
There, he hooked up with former Payson High School shot-put and discus star Julie Gunzel.
After graduating from PHS, Gunzel accepted a track and field scholarship to Colorado State University where she is now a fifth-year senior.
At the Mesa competition, Sweitzer said, she finished second in the discus with a throw of 166 feet. In the shot-put, her toss of about 45 feet was good enough for fourth place.
Her personal records, Sweitzer said, are 173 feet in the discus and 46 feet, 11 inches in the shot-put. Gunzel also competes in the hammer throw and should qualify for all three in the NCAA championships this summer, Sweitzer said.
The former coach also learned from Gunzel's parents that she's engaged to be married.
Run on home
The Payson Area Habitat for Home 5K Walk/Run is May 11 at Green Valley Park.
A pre-registration and T-shirt pick up will begin at 6:30 a.m. and continue until 7:45 a.m. The 5K begins promptly at 8 a.m.
Following the run, there will be a breakfast and awards ceremony.
Walkers and runners will compete in age divisions for a variety of prizes.
The registration fee is $15 if paid by noon May 10. On the day of the event, the fee increases to $18. Forms may be picked up at the Payson Athletic Club at Rim Country Mall or at the PAHH office, 1013 S. Goodfellow Road.
Call 474-0330 for more information.
The Payson Christian Community School benefit trout tournament is May 11 at Woods Canyon Lake.
The headquarters for the tournament will be the Woods Canyon store. All anglers must check in there. The fee is $15 if pre-registered. On the day of the tournament, the fee is $20.
Due to the decreasing size of the lake, the field will be limited to the first 100 who register.
Tournament rules and regulations include keeping only fish that are greater than eight inches in length and all trout must be caught at Woods Canyon.
A valid fishing license and trout stamp is required. Game and Fish laws that limit the possession of trout to six per day will be enforced.
Also, there can be no pre-fishing of the lake after May 4. Tournament fishing begins at 5 a.m. and continues until 4 p.m.
The weigh-in at the dock house begins 3 p.m. and continues for one hour.
Anglers have the option of catching and releasing their trout.
At the conclusion of the weigh-in, awards and prizes which will include trophies for first through third places for largest fish and total weight of all fish will be given on the back porch of the store.
Also a raffle and awarding of door prizes will be held.
Call PCCS, 474-8050, for registration forms or more information.