If PHS track and field athletes are going to pin prestigious state medals to their letter jackets, most will have to come up with personal best efforts.
For example, in the 3A girls discus, Kayla Morgan won the East region championship with a heave of 106 feet, 6 inches. But in the state meet, which begins today, May 9, and wraps up tomorrow at Mesa High School, Morgan will go toe-to-toe against Alexandria Strickin of Fountain Hills who has thrown 109 feet, 11 inches.
Morgan is also the East region shot put champion with a heave of 34 feet, 7 inches. At state, Tuba City's Trisha Curley and Cassandria Jackson of Winslow will probably be her fiercest competition.
Curley has thrown 36 feet, 7 inches and Jackson has a PR in the event of 36 feet, 2 inch.
The Lady Longhorn 4x400 relay team won the East title turning in a time of 4:20.02. At state, the foursome will face stiff competition from Chino Valley (4:17.77) and Safford (4:14.11).
Jacquelyn Oesterblad is the Lady Horns No. 1 threat in the 3200 meters, but her time of 13:21.59 is well off the pace set by Blue Ridge's Jessica Rydberg (11:43.61).
In the 800 meters, Janet Echols has run well (2:33.48) and drawn the praise of coach Ian Harvey, but at Mesa High she faces Blue Ridge's Emerald Raney (2:21.08) and Faith Golmarac of Sedona (2:26.02).
Nikki DeWees won the East 300 hurdles title in 49.9. Her competition at state will include Miranda Moore of Coolidge (47.93), Brianna Kempton of Safford (47.75) and Snowflake's Arona Spader (46.15).
About the only PHS track and field athlete who heads to state with a slight advantage in an event is long jumper Maddie Nossek.
The sophomore defending state champion won the East crown with a leap of 15 feet, 7 inches but has gone 16 feet, 8 inches. Chino Valley's Kate Earle, who has leaped 16 feet, 5.25 inches, could provide Nossek with a strong challenge.
The boys team's best chance at pocketing medals might be in the pole vault where Nick Goodman and Daniel McGee have two of the conference's best efforts this season.
Goodman has cleared 13 feet and McGee 13 feet, 6 inches.
If both can match their own PRs, they could finish one-two in the event.
The shot put is loaded with talented athletes including Blue Ridge's Dwight Boyd (51 feet, 1.5 inches) and Joe Larsen of Winslow (49 feet, 1 inch).
Payson's best hopes for medals in the event rest on the hulking shoulders of Bryan Burke (46 feet, 5.5 inches) and Matt Wilson (45 feet, 11 inches).
Gunner Bauer is a state qualifier in the 800 meters (2:13.78), but faces the daunting challenge at state of trying to outrun Snowflake's Cody Wells (1:59.81).
Although the PHS track and field athletes are not toting to state some of the conference's best times and distances, the tracksters have historically turned in personal records in the lower Valley altitudes and during a prestigious meet in which teenage adrenaline flows like the rapids of the Colorado River.