The 2003 edition of the Payson Rotary Freshman/Sophomore Invitational Track and Field Meet might go down as one of the finest in the 30-plus year history of the competition.
Contested April 26 on the new all-weather running surface at Payson High School, the meet drew 17 schools from around the state. Many of the teams represented schools from the Class 4A and 5A ranks.
Among the big schools to send teams were Sunrise Mountain, Scottsdale Coronado, Tolleson, Aqua Fria and Apache Junction.
With 500-plus student athletes participating, the invitational took on the aura of a state championship meet for freshman and sophomore competitors.
"We think it was a great meet. We had so much good help," coach Chuck Hardt said.
Among those who helped with the logistics were Bill Lawson, Jan Shaffer, Don Heizer, Pat Heizer and Cactus Shadow's track and field coach, Tony Bjork.
"Tony travels up here to help us out. We are grateful for that," Hardt said.
For fans, the meet showcased unique events that are not featured at other prep competitions. One of the unusual events is the 4x800 coed relay that features two boys and two girls on each team. Unfortunately for homestanding Payson, the Longhorn team was disqualified for an infraction of the recently enacted "no jewelry" rule. According to Arizona Interscholastic Association regulations, competitors are to be disqualified if they compete wearing any type of jewelry.
"I guess it's a safety issue," Hardt said.
Most of the individual events pitted freshmen against freshmen and sophomores against sophomores. That format allowed the fledgling members of teams to see how they fare against others of similar age and maturity. It also helped the coaches better evaluate their young athletes.
With only the underclassmen participating, the junior and senior members of the Longhorn team chipped in to assist with timing, measuring and crowd control.
A meet highlight occurred in the sophomore girls pole vault when Loren Cruzan of Sunrise Mountain set a stadium record of 9 feet, 6 inches.
In the sophomore boys high jump, Tolleson's Monti Washington tied Jake Swartwood's stadium high jump record of 6 feet 4 inches.
100 Meters: 1st, Luke Apfel, 11.89; 5th, Todd Kreimeyer, 12.44
800 Meters: 1st, Pat Karlowski, 2:15.19
200 Meters: 2nd, Luke Apfel, 24.10
Long Jump: 3rd, Logan Hopkins, 17'5"; 8th, Pat Karlowski, 16'10"
Pole Vault: 7th, Trent Hubbard, 8'6"
Discus: 6th, Trent Hubbard, 89'11"
Shot Put: 8th, George Redwine, 33'6.5"
Discus: 1st, W. Cassuto, 121'4"; 4th, George Redwine, 110'6"
1600 Meters: 4th, Alysha Huddlestun, 6:09
3200 Meters: 1st, Alysha Huddlestun, 13:39.68; 4th, Brianna Quinlan, 14:54.05; 8th, Kendra Francis, 15:30.11
Triple Jump: 4th, Kendra Francis, 28'
High Jump: 2nd, Tianna Golliglee, 4'6"
Shot Put: 4th, Megan Miles, 29'2"
1600 Meters: 1st, Autumn Herrera, 5:49:88
300 Hurdles: 1st, Haylee Huff, 50.42; 3rd, Brittany Owens, 51.82
800 Meters: 8th, Becca Easton, 2:51.47
200 Meters: 3rd, Shaleen Holmes, 28.81
Long Jump: 7th, Crystal Sprinkle, 12'2.5"
Pole Vault: 5th, Haylee Huff, 7'
Discus: 6th, Stephanie Vandruff, 61'2"
4x100 Relay: 1st, Payson, 53.33