Despite School Size Disadvantage, Tracksters Shine

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Brian Schwind didn't have to clear his personal record 6 feet, 4 inches to win the Arizona State Class 4A state high jump championship.

The Payson High School junior only needed to leap 6 feet, 2 inches to win the title on fewer misses.

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Brian Schwind only had to clear 6 feet, 2 inches, 2 inches less than his PR, to win the Class 4A state high jump title.

In all, four state-qualified high jumpers soared over the bar at the winning height, but it was Schwind who cleared the bar first.

The 10 team points he earned made up most of the 12 points the Longhorns carded during the state finals held May 12 to May 14 at Mesa Community College.

The Longhorns' other two team points were posted by senior Wellington Cassuto in the discus throw. His heave of 144 feet, 6 inches earned him an individual seventh place finish.

In the shot put, Cassuto finished 15th with a toss of 42 feet, 5 inches.

Schwind and Cassuto's efforts also propelled the Horns to a state 20th place showing in the 43-team field.

Tempe McClintock High School won the state crown with 56 points.

Although PHS junior Brandon Echols didn't earn the Payson squad state points he did qualify for the 100 meter dash and ran to a 25th place in 11.70.

The PHS 4x800 relay team of David Cluff, Eric Monty, Carlos Lopez and Carlan Pontious finished 11th among the 26 qualifiers.

The foursome's time of 8:21.40 was much quicker than its state qualifying time of 8:32.02.

Back to 3A

The Longhorns' appearance in the state finals also marked the final season Payson High School will compete as a 4A school.

Next year, the Horns will move down to the 3A conference after spending two years as a member of the big school conference.

As the smallest school in the 4A conference, with 964 students -- 15 more than the 3A cutoff -- school officials last fall petitioned the Arizona Interscholastic Association to return to 3A where Payson had been a member for more than two decades. The association granted Payson's request for the 2005-2006 school year.

In track and field, the Longhorns should find life in the 3A conference much more comfortable.

That's because competition will be much less fierce since the 3A contains only 33 schools and 23,443 students compared to the 4A's 62 schools and 92,733 students.

Also in 3A, the conference format allows four individual qualifiers from four regional meets to advance to the state championships.

In 4A, only three individual qualifiers from eight regional meets are eligible for state.

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