The Longhorn boys 4x800 relay team continues to shine on the statewide track and field stage.
After opening the campaign with three consecutive victories and a school-record time of 8:18.90, the foursome turned in its most impressive performance March 27 at the Chandler Rotary Invitational. Rising to the occasion, the four shattered the previous school mark with a clocking of 8:07.44.
The team's effort earned Payson a second-place finish behind Class 5A Scottsdale Saguaro (8:05.33).
The four team members -- Brian Langeliers, Dustin Rodgers, Joe Behrens and Tanner Morgan -- agree that they can cut even more seconds off their Chandler time.
Their goal is to lower the school standard at either the Grand Canyon regional championships (May 7 and 8 in Payson) or at the 4A state meet (May 13 to 15 at Mesa College).
In finishing as the silver medalist at Chandler, the Rim runners outdueled 28 of the best relay teams from Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.
In the open 800 meters, Behrens ran his way to a sixth-place finish covering the two laps in 2:00.63.
Behrens entered the meet with a PB of 1:59.80. Behrens said he felt good before the run, but wasn't sure why he wasn't able to break the magical 2:00 barrier as he's done before.
The winner of the event, Arcadia's Richard Keating (1:58.3,) cut almost a full second off his personal best.
In the 3,200 meters, Morgan endured the most humbling race of his career.
Late in the race, the senior lost track of his lap count and mistakenly believed the seventh lap was the final. Just prior to the start of the seventh, he was running 11th among the 35 entrants.
After mistakingly kicking his way completely through the second to final lap, he slowed at what he thought was the finish line.
"The judge said to me, ‘Hey Dude, you've got another lap,'" Morgan said. "So I ran it in about 2:30 and finished last."
Since only the fastest 19 entrants were timed, Morgan is not sure of his time.
"I know it wasn't good," he said. "I hope I never make that mistake again."
Morgan, the Longhorns' best cross country runner last fall, entered the race with a personal best of 10:07.80 that was among the top 20 marks in the state this season.
In the triple jump, sophomore Brian Schwind's leap of 39 feet, 2 inches earned him an invitation to Chandler. He did not finish among the top 20 leapers and his best effort was not recorded. The 20th place finisher, Dujan White of Franklin, Texas, leaped 39 feet. The winner, Tony Bayer of Queen Creek, sailed 47 feet, 7 inches.
The Longhorns' efforts earned them a 22nd-place finish in the 40-team field at Chandler. The Horns were credited with 11 team points. Mesa Mountain View tallied 59 to win the meet title.
The Lady Horns
In the girls competition, Kody Kepp turned in Payson's best effort with a 14th place finish in the discus throw. Her mark of 98 feet, 2 inches topped her previous PB by an inch.
The event winner, Nicole Radman of Chandler Seton, uncorked a toss of 121 feet.
Payson's Hillari Hardt also participated in the discus, but her distance was not recorded because she was not among the top 30 finishers.
In the 1,600 meters, Autumn Herrera (5:58.64) was 27th in the
32-runner field. Herrera entered the event with a personal best of 5:49.00.
With a clocking of 6:14.35, Alesha Huddlestun was 31st. Huddlestun's PB is 5:54.00.
Payson's 4x800 relay team (10:44.12) was 12th in the 32-team field.
Event champion Mountain View posted a 9:59.11.
At Sandra Day
In a five-way meet March 24 at Sandra Day O'Connor High School in Glendale, the Lady Horns nipped the hosts for the championship. Payson finished with 105 points and O'Connor posted 99. Others teams competing were Thunderbird (83), Phoenix North (60) and Estrella Foothills (10).
In the boys competition, the Horns (103) finished second behind Thunderbird (136.5). North tallied 58 points and O'Connor had 47.5. Estrella trailed with 11 points.
Both PHS track teams return to action April 2 at the newly built Willow Canyon High School located near Dysart.