Horns Pumping Iron

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Drop by the Payson High School weight room most any afternoon and you'll find plenty of activity. Among those using the facility are football players looking to improve their strength and agility for next season's run at postseason honors.

Other athletes represent basketball, track and field, cross country, wrestling and soccer.

On any given afternoon, a host of supervisors also are on hand to oversee the workouts and encourage the youngsters in their off-season endeavors.

Football coach Steve Saban, who next year will begin his second season at the helm of the program, is among those supervising the activities.

The after-school sessions, Saban said, are a must for players who want to realize their athletic potential during the 2002 campaign.

Also present at most sessions is boys basketball head coach Mike Loutzenheiser.

A member of the 1986 Longhorn team that advanced to the state championship, Loutzenheiser is projected to serve as a football assistant next year.

Like Saban, Loutzenheiser is hoping student athletes turnout in droves to prepare for the rigors of both football and basketball.

Another member of the 1986 Longhorn football team, Keven Rush, also has attended the after-school sessions to lend his considerable expertise. Rush, also a track and field star during his Payson High hey-days, holds a BS degree in exercise science from New Mexico State University.

Now the owner of Payson Athletic Club, Rush says weight training and conditioning during the off-season can be the difference between success and failure. The sessions sometimes turn into a family affair when Rush turns teacher and coach for nephew Andy Sanders. The youngster, a standout athlete at Rim Country Middle School this season, will be a freshman at PHS next year.

When not at an after-school session, Rush is available at PAC to help aspiring athletes.

Others who have shown up at the sessions to lend encouragement have been former mayor Craig Swartwood and football booster club member Nelson Beck. Both have sons who played on last year's Longhorn football team that advanced to the state quarterfinals before losing a hard fought contest to eventual 3A champion Blue Ridge.

According to Beck, one of the goals of the booster club is to improve the weight-training facilities at the high school and to encourage participation.

At the conclusion of the school year, the weight-training sessions will continue into the summer. The hours of operation will be announced soon.

Call 474-2233 for more information about the after-school program.

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