Payson High School track and field members will finally have the opportunity to showcase their skills in front of parents, fans, teachers and friends.
The opportunities arrive April 2 at the Payson Coed Invitational and April 19 at the Rotary Frosh and Soph Invitational.
Both represent 2008 home opening meets after the team kicked off the campaign in February by traveling to Queen Creek, Flagstaff, Eagar-Springerville, Chandler and Safford.
The annual invitational is unique in that it provides the athletes the opportunity to compete in coed relay events they might not encounter elsewhere during the season.
"There are some around the state, but not too many," PHS assistant coach Chuck Yale said.
In most relays, teams include two boys and two girls, with girls running first and third legs and boys second and anchor.
The distance medley relay, or DMR, includes legs of 800, 400, 1200 and 1600 meters.
The sprint medley relay, or SMR, is 100, 100, 200 and 400 meters.
The middle distance relay, or MDR, is 400, 200, 200 and 800 meters.
While those events are unique, it might be the shuttle hurdle relays that are most unusual because teammates run in opposite directions.
The girls run 50 meters and five hurdles. After crossing the relay exchange line, they are replaced by a boy teammate running the opposite way for 55 meters over five hurdles.
The field events are also conducted in two-boy, two-girl teams with total height or distance for all four teammates used as a final score.
Yale anticipates teams representing Northland Prep Ganado, Blue Ridge and Heber Mogollon will join Payson at the meet.
Rotary up next
The Payson Rotary Invitational, once among the finest small town track and field meets in Arizona, fell upon hard times in the late 1990s when the old PHS dirt track was deemed unsatisfactory by coaches and a sewer line had to be replaced.
For a few years the meet was discontinued before former PHS coach Chuck Hardt brought the meet back. It, however, had to be held it at Apache Junction High School.
In the spring of 2003 after the all-weather track surface at PHS was finally finished, the meet returned to the friendly confines of PHS stadium.
But the Rotary format, once a varsity-only competition, was changed to feature only freshmen and sophomores.
It's now one of the few competitions in the state that allows underclassmen to meet head-to-head rather than having to compete against older, more seasoned juniors and seniors.
Also some relay events are conducted coed.
As important as the Rotary event has been on the PHS track and field agenda, not a single meet record was held by a PHS athlete until last spring.
That's when, Maddie Nossek's freshman long jump of 16-feet, 4-inches was almost six inches longer than the previous record. It also bettered the sophomore standard.
This year, Nossek will compete in the Rotary showdown with an opportunity to set another meet record.
In 2007, the meet turned into a marathon-like affair with 23 teams and 700 athletes from around the state showed up to participate.
This year, only eight teams have preregistered but Yale expects many more to soon show interest.
"I think we'll be as big as last year," he said.