Freshman Maddie Nossek and senior Shanna Coleman surprised onlookers with their gold medal efforts at the Class 3A state track and field championships.
Nossek, a rookie competing mostly against upperclassmen more seasoned than her, leaped 16 feet, 8 inches, to win the long jump at the finals, held May 11 and 12 at Mesa High School.
As astonished as some were by the first-year trackster's accomplishments, it might have been Coleman's win in the pole vault that was the biggest upset of the day.
Entering the state finals, Coleman had taken a back seat to senior teammate Sarah Agnes, who set a school record April 27 at Winslow with a pole vault mark of 10 feet, 3 inches. Agnes also was the East region champion with a vault of 9 feet.
But at state, it was Coleman -- a four-year team member -- who won the event, after tying for first with Round Valley's Lorretta Morris, who vaulted 9 feet. Coleman was awarded first place and Morris fell to second on the fewest misses tiebreaker.
Agnes settled for third with a vault of 8 feet, 6 inches.
Nossek's win in the long jump came at the expense of Fountain Hills senior Hanna Sadle, who was 1.5 inches behind the Payson freshman.
Nossek's leap was well off the school record of 18 feet, 5 inches, but with three years of eligibility remaining, she could be on her way to setting a new Lady Horn standard.
"She has a lot of ability," coach Chuck Hardt said.
The first-place points earned by Nossek and Coleman helped lift the Lady Horns to a seventh-place state showing, with 36.5 points.