If the Rim Country sports scenario unfolds as expected, the Payson Rotary Invitational Track and Field meet has been held for the final time in Apache Junction.
That's because the new all-weather track at Payson High School is projected to be completed before the next Rotary meet is held in the spring of 2003.
Workers are expected to soon begin preliminary preparations for laying the track that could be finished by Aug. 1.
Due to the deteriorating conditions on the old PHS dirt track and the fact that a sewer line had to be relocated, the Rotary meet was moved two years ago to the campus of Apache Junction High School.
The Rotary's return to Payson next spring will mark the rejuvenation of a classic that decades ago was considered one of the premier meets in small town Arizona.
Once a varsity competition, the Rotary format was changed several years ago to feature only freshmen and sophomores.
It's now one of the few competitions in the state that allows underclassmen to meet head-to-head rather than having to compete against older, more seasoned juniors and seniors.
Also unique to the meet format is that some relay events are conducted coed.
According to coach Chuck Hardt, the coed events came about because it was often tough to find four boy or girl athletes from one class to fill out a relay team. "So we let them go coed and it worked out," Hardt said.
One of the highlights of the most recent Rotary meet held April 20 in AJ was the sophomore boys 1600 meter competition. In the run, the Horns had three runners for the first time in the seven-year tenure of Hardt turn in clockings of under five minutes. The trio included Joe Behrens (third; 4:47.60), Dustin Rogers (fifth; 4:51.9) and Brian Langeliers (sixth; 4:59.3).
Another highlight of the meet was the gold medal showing of freshman Haylee Huff in the 300 meter hurdles.
Although no times were recorded due to a clock malfunction, Huff's effort drew praise from Hardt as an impressive performance for a first-year hurdler.
Next up for the freshmen, sophomores and older team members are the East Region Championships to be held May 3 and 4 at Blue Ridge High School in Lakeside.
The girls team enters the fray as the four-time defending regional champs. The boys team has not won a regional title since 1999.
Hardt is projecting Snowflake will provide the Lady Longhorns their stiffest competition.
The PHS boys will be challenged heartily by talented teams from both Blue Ridge and Snowflake.
The top four teams from the regional showdown earn berths into the state championships to be held May 10 and 11 at Mesa Mountain View High School.
More results from the Rotary Invitational:
Freshman and Sophomore meet April 20 at Apache Junction High
100: Shaleen Holmes 3rd 13.46; Rebecca Easton 6th 14.37; Annie Wrobleski 8th 15.25
1600: Lori Wing 7th 6:34.9
300 Hurdles: Britney Owens 4th; Rebecca Easton 5th
800: Autumn Herrera 2nd 2:42
4x100*: Jenny Cohen, Haylee Huff, Britney Owens, Shaleen Holmes 2nd 54.72
400: Kelsey Palace 3rd 1:09
200: Shaleen Holmes 2nd 28.77; Annie Wrobleski 7th 32.8
3200: Lori Shephard 4th 16:13
Shot-Put: Kodi Kepp 1st 33-1; Stephanie Vandruff 3rd 22-8
Pole Vault: Kelsey Palace 1st 7-0
Discus: Kodi Kepp 3rd 64-10; Stephanie Vandruff 6th 57-3
Long Jump: Britney Owens 1st 14-33/4; Rebecca Easton 3rd 13-01/2
High Jump: Autumn Herrera, Haylee Huff (tie) 2nd 4-6
100: Andy Sargent 2nd 11.67
4x100*: Mike Orosco, Wellington Cassuto, Rick Corso, Andy Sargent 3rd 48.00
3200: Steve Colbertson 4th 13:48.1
Shot-Put: Wellington Cassuto 2nd 34-4; Pete Duffy 3rd 34-0; Alex Winchester 5th 31-9
Long Jump: Andy Sargent 1st 18-4
Discus: Pete Duffy 2nd 108-3; Wellington Cassuto 3rd 107-5; Alex Winchester 4th 98-7; George Redwine 5th 91-11
400: Jennie Cohen 2nd 1:05.5
800: Whitney Hardt 1st 2:20.26
4x800* (Coed): Joe Behrens, Autumn Herrera, Brian Langeliers, Whitney Hardt 1st 9:22.9
4x400* (Coed): Mike Orosco, Haylee Huff, Joe Behrens, Jennie Cohen 1st 4:01.35
Triple Jump: Amy Wilcox 3rd 29-11/2
Discus: Hillari Hardt 2nd 92-3
Shot-Put: Hillari Hardt 1st 31-01/2; Amy Wilcox 2nd 30-1
Pole Vault: Amy Wilcox 3rd 8-0
800: Dustin Rogers 3rd 2:13.55; Brian Langeliers 4th 2:14.92
Discus: Rick Corso 1st 131-1
Shot-Put: Rick Corso 6th 37-2
Pole Vault: Mike Orosco 2nd 10-0
- Combined freshmen and sophomores