Longtime Payson High School coach Chuck Hardt has earned his 12th Coach of the Year regional honor.
East coaches and athletic directors tapped Hardt for the honor after he led the Longhorn boys track and field team to a region championship and a Class 3A state third-place finish.
Hardt's other Coach of the Year citations were for his efforts in leading PHS girl's track and field and cross country teams to region and state honors.
All the awards have been bestowed in the past six years.
Last season, after the Longhorns dominated the regular campaign and easily won the East championship, the Hardt-led team advanced to the state showdown at Queen Creek High School. There, Payson finished third, just 6 points out of second and 11 points behind state champion Rio Rico.
Payson High School director Dave Bradley praised Hardt for his coach of the year honor.
"It's a well deserved accolade, he's put in long hours and has always developed good track teams with the kids he has," Bradley said.
Behind the efforts of Hardt and a dedicated staff of top-notch coaches, Payson High School has long fielded quality track and field teams. Several former PHS athletes have gone on to participate on the collegiate level. Among the distinguished alumni are Jeremy Hoff, David Shaw, Stephanie Robertson and Reanna Martinez.
In cross country, Hardt has almost single-handedly molded PHS teams into title contenders.
Hardt also has coached basketball and football at Payson High School.
In addition to his coaching duties, he is a physical education instructor at the school.