Payson High School track and field coach Chuck Hardt is praising junior multi-event standout Tracy Fitzpatrick as the team's most hardy athlete.
"She's a tough kid, probably the toughest one we have," Hardt said.
The coach's recognition of Fitzpatrick's talent came as the team practiced in midweek for today's 16-team Round Valley Invitational.
Although the school district is in the midst of spring break and some athletes are vacationing with their parents, Hardt estimates about 35 team members will travel to Eagar for the competition.
The coach has not settled on the exact lineup for today's meet but said Fitzpatrick will probably be entered in the long jump, triple jump and be a member of the 4x400 relay team. Others on the foursome could be Amy Buckner, Krystal McRae and Janet Echols.
The coach said he also expects to enter Echols, a short-distance speedster, in the 400 meters to help condition her for the season.
Also for the Lady Horns, McRae could be a threat to win the 100-meter hurdles. Last week at the Buckeye Invitational, she won the event in a respectable 16.72.
The coaching staff expected team points to come from Tiffany Moore in the high jump, freshman Kaitlin Wallace in the shot-put and Alesha Huddlestun and Crystal Sprinkle in the middle and long distances.
For the Horns
The question among the boys is the availability sprinter Luke Apfel. The speedster missed the March 9 meet at Buckeye due to family illness and his availability for today's competition is uncertain.
The constant in the Horn lineup is sophomore Carlan Pontious, who won both the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs at Buckeye.
March 2, in a highly competitive season-opening meet at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Pontious was second in the 1,500 and third in the 3,200 meters.
In Eagar, Pontious could be on track to earn his first gold medals of the season.
Brian Schwind will be a gold-medal candidate in the high jump and possibly the triple and long jumps. Senior Wellington Cassuto is strong in the discus and David Cluff could make noise in the 3,200 meters.
If pole vaulter Trent Hubbard can model the consistency his coach Bo Althoff had when he toiled for the Longhorns, he could earn an invitational medal.
Both the boys and girls track team will make their home debut March 30 on Longhorn track. The field events begin at 3:30 p.m.