Crews Put Finishing Touches On New Track

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The long-awaited completion of the new track at Payson High School appears to have finally come to fruition.

Late last week, a work crew was applying the final touches to the track which included painting the running lanes.

The new track has been a goal for about as long as anyone can remember. When I arrived in Payson in 1985, there were whispers of building such a facility.

The track coaches at the time, Hans Schoenborn and Dennis Hansen, championed the idea.

Former PHS athletic director Harry Hochstettler once came up with the idea of raising money by selling portions of the running surface to businesses. His thinking was that if Payson businessmen all bought a one-meter portion of the track, the facility could be built.

The Payson Roundup was one of those that purchased a meter of the track. Hochstettler's idea never got off the ground, but it had residents thinking.

Through the years, there have been countless other people who have stepped forward to help.

In the early years, Glenn Hale was there to spearhead the movement to improve the facility. Without his efforts, I sincerely doubt the project would ever have been done.

Of course, we can't forget the generous monetary donation of the Tonto Apaches that helped put the fund-raising effort over the top.

The Credit for Kids tax program also provided plenty of financial support.

PHS track coach Chuck Hardt spent the past several spring seasons experiencing the nomadic life of a road warrior. Due to the deteriorating condition of the old facility, Hardt's charges could participate in only away meets.

That also put a hardship on parents who were forced to travel to see their children compete.

With only away meets on the schedule, PHS track and field athletes spent much of their school days and weekends traveling the Arizona highways.

Now, Payson has a facility that will be the envy of many small-town schools.

The new track should open many doors towards hosting regional and state high school meets as well as Junior Olympic and other amateur events.

Simply said, all of Payson should be extremely proud of the efforts that went into building the facility.

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