Unusual Format Produces Good Results

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The Payson Coed Relays might have been the most unusually formatted clash the young athletes have ever been involved in.

Instead of competing in the usual individual running, jumping and throwing events, the relays -- held April 6 on Longhorn track -- featured mostly a foursome of two boys and two girls competing against one another.

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Chris Durbin was a member of the shuttle hurdles relay team during the Payson Coed Relays.

Even in the field and throwing events, competition was conducted in four-person relays.

In the long jump relay, the Longhorn team of Brian Schwind (20 feet, 6 inches), Troy Brown (18 feet), Jenna Robertson (15 feet, 1 inch) and Nikki DeWeese (15 feet) joined forces for a total effort of 68 feet, 7 inches and a first place finish over Flagstaff Sinagua (67 feet, 7 inches).

Although Payson teams performed well, winning several relays and open events, no team scores were kept.

In the four-team field, it might have been the Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets who stole the show by setting two meet records.

Blue Ridge's 4x800 coed relay turned in a 9:41 clocking to set a new standard, as did the 4x1600 team in 22:20.

What renders the 4x1600 record most startling is that the Jacket foursome set the mark without any competition -- the team was the only one entered.

"That means they are pretty good to be able to do that," PHS coach Chuck Hardt said.

Probably the most unique event was the shuttle hurdles that featured relay teams of two boys and two girls running in opposite directions.

The boys ran 55-meter legs over five 36-inch hurdles and the girls ran 50 meters over five 30-inch hurdles.

The Payson team, however, didn't fare well and were disqualified after a runner left his start position too soon.

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Joe Blackburn receives the baton from Lady Longhorn Amy Buckner at the Payson Coed Relays April 6.

The Horns did receive a gold medal performance from its coed high jump relay crew that put together a 20-foot, 10-inch effort. On the winning squad were Mike Daniels (5 feet, 10 inches), Schwind (6 feet, 2 inches) Robertson (4 feet, 8 inches) and DeWeese (4 feet, 2 inches).

The Longhorn shot put relay team also garnered a gold medal with a total distance of 138 feet, 5 inches.

Morgan Cassuto threw 41 feet, 3.5 inches, Bryan Burke uncorked a heave of 38 feet, 11.5 inches and Kayla O'Donnell tossed 32 feet, 4.5 inches. Lacy Sommars threw 25 feet, 5 inches

Other relay gold medalists for Payson included teams entered in the sprint medley, 4x100 boys, distance medley and the middle distance medley events.

In the open events, Carlan Pontious easily won the 800 meters in 2:05.6. His nearest competition, Chris Breckenridge was clocked in 2:20.4.

Pontious' time, which is edging ever closer to the magical two-minute mark, drew praise from Hardt.

"He's working hard and getting closer to (2 minutes)," Hardt said.

The coach is predicting if Pontious continues to improve, he could run a sub two-minute 800 meters May 12 and 13 at the state championships to be held at Mesa High School.

Both PHS teams will return to action April 13 at Queen Creek High School.

The annual Rotary Freshman-Sophomore Invitational will begin at 10 a.m. April 22 on Longhorn track.

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