Longhorn Tracksters Battle To Make State

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With the state championship meet less than a month away, Longhorn track and field team members are scrambling to post qualifying marks.

The athletes who exceed the minimum times/ distances as established by the 3A conference receive automatic berths into the state championships. Those who do not outside qualify must finish among the top-four at the regional meet to earn a berth to state. The regional showdown is May 9 and 10 in Lakeside.

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Payson High School senior Chris Donaldson (center) is on the verge of earning an outside qualifying berth into the state track and field meet.

State qualifying berths must be earned at designated meets held throughout the regular season. Although a substantial number of Longhorns have met the minimum standards, some did not do so at the predetermined qualifiers.

The only qualifiers so far in the season are Haylee Huff, Alex Cassuto, Lucas Schmidt and the 4x800 relay team.

Huff has qualified in the high jump by clearing the minimum height of 4 feet, 8 inches. Cassuto's pole vault of 14 feet exceeds the qualifying standard by a foot.

Schmidt has qualified in the discus with a throw of 155 feet, 3 inches. The standard to beat is 132 feet, 9 inches.

The 4x800 boys relay team of Dustin Rodgers, Tanner Morgan, Joe Behrens and Brian Langeliers is headed for state with a time of 8:24.07. The Longhorn foursome is the only 3A relay team to exceed the qualifying mark of 8:24.07. The second best time turned in was an 8:41.76 clocking by Winslow.

Several other Payson High track standouts are very close to meeting the qualifying standards in their respective events. Among them are Jake Swartwood and Nick Cassuto in the high jump (6 feet; qualifying mark is 6 feet, 2 inches), Andrew Karlowski in the triple jump (38 feet, 8 1/2 inches; standard is 42 feet, 3 inches), Lucas Schmidt in the shot put (46 feet, 9 inches; standard is 47 feet 2 inches), Kody Kepp in the shot put (32 feet, 7 1/2 inches; standard is 33 feet, 8 inches), Joe Behrens in the 800 meters (2:05.08; standard is 1:59.60), Tanner Morgan in the 1,600 meters (4:47.34; standard is 4:31.13), Chris Donaldson in the high hurdles (15:72; standard is 15:47) and 300 hurdles (42:77; standard is 41:13) and the girls 4x100 relay team (54.24, standard is 53.02).

The Longhorns had an opportunity to qualify for state at a designated meet yesterday (Thursday) at the Blue Ridge Yellow Jacket Invitational in Lakeside (Results not available at press time).

A three-way meet April 11 on the PHS track was canceled when both Flagstaff Sinagua and Winslow opted not to participate. A White Mountain League middle school meet that was to be held in conjunction with the high school competition, went on as scheduled.

The Longhorns are slated to return to action at 1:30 p.m. April 23 on the PHS track. On hand to challenge the host Longhorns will be Mingus, Estrella Foothills and Grand Island, New York.

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