If Carlan Pontious and Nate Doyle were searching for a rock 'n' roll classic to sum up their performance in the Queen Creek Invitational, they might choose Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel."
It would be a fitting tune, because both Payson High School athletes came up just heartbeats short of setting records, during the April 13 competition at Queen Creek High School.
Pontious' heartache occurred in the 800-meter event he won by clocking in at 2:01.85. As good as the time was, it fell .18 of a second off the state outside qualifying time of 2:01.67. Had he met the state standard, he would have earned an automatic berth into the state meet to be held May 11 to 14 at Mesa High School.
To earn the right to participate at state, those athletes who do not earn automatic berths by meeting certain minimum standards during the regular season must finish among the top four in their respective events at the East region championships May 4 and 5 in Snowflake.
Doyle didn't have any trouble nailing an outside qualifying berth in the 400 meters, winning the one lap sprint in 50:25. His heartbreak occurred when he learned his time was less than a second off the school record of 49:49, set by Tim Ryden in 1991.
The good news for both speedsters is they have two more regular season opportunities -- April 24 in Payson and April 27 at the Winslow Invitational -- to meet or break the marks.
In addition to the first-place finishes from Pontious and Doyle, the Horn effort in Queen Creek received a boost from Robert Walker in the high jump. The junior leaper cleared 6 feet, 4 inches to win the event.
For PHS, second-place honors in the 14-team field were garnered Kayla Morgan (shot put; 34 feet, 9.5 inches) and Maddie Nossek (high jump; 4 feet, 8 inches and long jump; 15 feet, 6 inches).
Nikki DeWees took third in the high jump (4 feet, 8 inches), as did Morgan Cassuto in the shot out (48 feet, 1 inch) and Shanna Coleman in the pole vault (9 feet). The efforts of all the second and third place finishers met state outside qualifying standards.
The girls 4x400 relay team of Panda Stackhouse, Janet Echols, DeWees and Nossek finished third and also earned a state slot.
Fourth-place finishers include Jenna Robertson (long jump), Morgan (discus), DeWees (300 hurdles) and the boys 4x400 relay team of Jordan Wood, Carlos Lopez, Doyle and Pontious.
The Lady Horn 4x800 foursome of Lana Cluff, Brooke Larned, Linkey and Schouten was also fourth.
In the pole vault, Horns Nick Goodman (12 feet) Daniel McGee (12 feet) and Isaac Cluff (11 feet, 6 inches) qualified for the state finale.