Lady Horn Track Wraps Up Season With State Tournament

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Shanna Coleman's second place finish in the pole vault and Kayla O'Donnell's bronze medal effort in the shot put paced the Lady Longhorns to an 11th place finish at the Class 3A state tournament.

The 20-team meet, held May 12 and 13 at Mesa High School, drew the top three finishers in all individual events from four regional championships held a week prior. Coleman cleared a personal best nine feet to finish as runner up to Notre Dame-bound Rikkilynn London of Blue Ridge. The Yellow Jacket star soared over the bar at 10 feet, 6 inches. O'Donnell, only a freshman, heaved the shot put 35 feet, 2 inches to finish behind Sarah Griffis of Estrella and Deezbaa Whaley of Monument Valley. Griffis threw 36 feet, 9 inches and Whaley uncorked a winning toss of 37 feet, 4.5 inches.

The Lady Longhorn 4x400 relay team of Amy Buckner, Janet Echols, Alesha Huddlestun and Nikki DeWees was fifth in the finals after finishing seventh in the preliminaries. The foursome was clocked in 4:20.96, about 12 seconds slower than the winning Snowflake team.

Payson's 4x100 team, comprised of the same four runners, was sixth in 53.34. The winning Chandler Seton team turned in a 51.63 effort. Jenna Robertson, a PHS freshman took seventh place in both the long jump (15 feet, 1.5 inches) and high jump (4 feet, 8 inches). In the discus, Sierra Sommars was eighth with a throw of 97 feet 9 inches. In the state tournament format, the top eight finishers in the final round earned medals and team points.

The championships marked the culmination of a season that began with only 14 girls turning out for the track and field program.

Coach Chuck Hardt said at the onset of the season he was puzzled by the lack of interest in a program that had produced some of Arizona's best athletes, including Reanna Martinez, Julie Gunzel, Stephanie Robertson, Lura Goldman, Nicole Engstrom and Whitney Hardt. The highlight of the season might have been an April 24 four-way meet that the Lady Horns won by a single point.

Payson posted 70 points, Chino Valley had 69, Show Low racked up 56.5 and Mogollon tallied 50.5 in one of the most hotly contested meets ever held in Longhorn stadium.

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