Four individual East region champions and two gold medal winning relay teams will shoulder Longhorn hopes for a Class 3A state track and field championship.
The state finals begin at 5 p.m. today, Friday, at Mesa High School and wrap up tomorrow, May 13, also at MHS.
East region champions who will be out to add state medals to their letter jackets include Brian Schwind, Todd Kreimeyer, Brandon Echols, Carlan Pontious and the 4x100 and 4x800 relay teams.
The East championships were held May 6 in Snowflake.
Schwind advances to state as the East champion in both the long jump
(20 feet, 2 3/3 inches) and the high jump (6 feet, 2 inches).
He is also the defending 4A state champion in the high jump, having cleared 6 feet, 4 inches last season.
Schwind cannot defend that title because PHS was realigned to the 3A conference, from 4A, at the start of the school year.
Kreimeyer is the reigning East champ in the 100-meter dash, with a clocking of 11.19. Echols won the 200 in 22.92. The two speedsters give the Horn tracksters a one-two punch in the sprints the team hasn't possessed in the past two decades.
"We've had one good one, Ty Chilson and later David Shaw, but never two at the same time," coach Chuck Hardt said.
Pontious advances to state as the 800 meter East champion, having turned in a 2:03.82 effort that took him ever closer to the magical two-minute mark.
In Mesa, with the lower altitude and the adrenaline of a state showdown flowing, Pontious could bust the two-minute barrier.
He will, however, have to overcome the obstacle of fatigue as he qualified for state in several events.
He'll also be participating in the 1600 and 3200 meters and on the 4x800 relay region championship team.
Also on the foursome are Bryson Addington, Carlos Lopez and David Cluff. Their winning time was 8:27.97.
Members of the 4x100 East champion relay team include Joe Blackburn, Nate Doyle, Echols and Kreimeyer. In Snowflake, the winning foursome turned in a time of 43.47 that easily bested the qualifying standard of 45.69.
While first place points are crucial to winning a state championship, depth also plays a huge role. Second, third and fourth place points can mean the difference between winning a state title and returning home as runner-up.
The Horns might have the role players they need at state with five second, two third and four fourth place East finishers qualified for the big show.
East runners-up include Nick Goodman (pole vault) Robert Walker (high jump), Pontious (1600 and 3200 meters), Echols (100 meters) and Schwind (triple jump).
Bronze medalists include Doyle (200 meters), Cluff (1600 and 3200 meters) and the 4x400 relay team of Addington, Blackburn, Boyle and Echols.
Advancing to state as East fourth place medalists are Chris Durbin (pole vault), Mike Daniels (discus), Cluff (800) and Kreimeyer (200).
In winning the East region team championship, the Horns posted 203 points to easily outdistance runner up Blue Ridge (172) and bronze medalist Snowflake (108). Round Valley (108) was fourth and Show Low (55) fifth.