It Was Love At First Sight For Jon Gunzel


No tally exists of married couples that started as teenaged sweethearts.

Payson High has certainly graduated its share of couples who recall dancing in the gym, cheering at track meets and setting down roots in the nearby hills and basins.


Payson High School sweethearts, Jon and Trina Gunzel, as they appear a few years after meeting during their school years.

Jon Gunzel and Trina Licavoli fell in love when he was a freshman and she was a junior. Mutual friend, Katie Hood, introduced them.

"The first time I saw her, I turned to Dan when she was out of earshot and said, ‘that is the girl I am going to marry,'" Jon said.

Alas, Trina was dating someone else, so she tried to set Jon up with her sister, Sarah.

There were no sparks and Jon was patient. When Trina and the other guy broke up, Jon asked her out and she accepted.

They had dated several months when, one day, Trina was walking back from softball practice and saw a boy on the track.

She told her sister, "Gosh, I wish my boyfriend looked like that."

"That is your boyfriend, dork."

Jon was a two-time shot put three-time discus state champion. He still holds the 169-foot-11-inch discus record at PHS.

The six-foot-four athlete peeked over his five-foot-four cheerleader's shoulder while she was dialing the combination on her locker in order to surprise her for Valentine's Day.

Trina opened it to find roses from his family's garden and a teddy bear.

Their first kiss was Jon's first kiss. It happened just before the bell outside of Mr. Daniel's world cultures class.

"She was going to class, I was going to play basketball," Jon said.

Trina graduated in 1994, Jon, three months younger, graduated in 1995.

During a shared family vacation to Rocky Point, Mexico, Jon asked Trina to marry him the first time.


Jon and Trina at a Payson High School prom.

"He had a seashell ring and asked me on the beach," Trina said.

Her parents were excited; his parents said, "absolutely not, you are both too young." So, they continued school on scholarships. Trina went to Northern Arizona University and he went to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

The phone company made a fortune on their long-distance calls and it got to the point where they felt they either needed to break up or be together.

Trina came to visit for his birthday. They took a ride on a packed Sandi Peak tram car.

Halfway up, since he couldn't get down on one knee, he hugged Trina around the waist and slipped a ring on her finger. "I love you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you," Jon said.

At Trina's "yes," the tram full of strangers broke into applause.

They spoke their vows on June 7, 1997 at St. Philip's Catholic Church in front of 350 people.

After college, the couple moved to Oregon, but Jon found the wet climate unsuitable.

"I'm a sunny weather guy," he said.

The Gunzels always knew that the Rim Country was where they wanted to live and work, they just thought it would be later in life.

Trina became a teacher at Julia Randall Elementary School and is now a statewide English Language Learner consultant.

Jon started Arizona Photo Solutions and she helps in the office with his business.

Jon also fishes in bass tournaments, with Trina and their 4-year-old son Wyatt cheering him on.

Teamwork and communication are keys to their marriage.

"The secret to staying married is my knowing God made her exactly the way He wanted and enjoying every aspect of that," Jon said.

"My dad says the first 25 years are always the hardest, so you can get to the next 25," Trina said.

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