The annual Payson Coed Invitational is unique in that it provides athletes the opportunity to compete in boy and girl relay events they might not encounter elsewhere during the season.
“There are some around the state, but not too many,” said PHS assistant coach Chuck Yale.
This year, the invitational is set to begin at 2 p.m., April 8 on Longhorn track.
Yale anticipates teams representing Blue Ridge, Sedona, Fountain Hills and Camp Verde will join Payson in the track fray.
For the meet, most relay teams will 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.
In 2008, the coed shot put relay team of Bryan Burke, Matt Wilson, Jenna Robertson and Holly West took first with a total mark of 147 feet, 9 inches.
PHS also copped the gold in the long jump relay behind the foursome of Maddie Nossek, Ryan Hintze, Nic Creighton and Robertson.
All seven of those athletes have returned to the Horn fold this season and could hook up once again for the upcoming meet.
Others with coed relay experience include Kyndel Lann, Talia Schaal, Blake Brown and Brandon Alexander.
Open individual events are also held.
Rotary underclass event next
Also on the track and field team’s upcoming home agenda is the Payson Freshman-Sophomore Invitational to be held April 25 on PHS track.
The format is also unusual in that it places competitors on an equal plane allowing the younger athletes to test their skills against other teens near the same age and maturity. In varsity track, freshmen and sophomores often find themselves going head-to-head against seniors who have the edge that comes with being older. Most often, seniors are more physically mature and more experienced than their younger teammates.
Due to those advantages, it’s often the seniors who emerge victorious over the younger athletes.
But in the upcoming Rotary meet, the underclassmen will have the opportunity to see how they fare when pitted against opponents who are the same age and level of experience.
In most events, freshmen will battle other freshmen and sophomores challenge sophomores.
Last year, 13 teams from around the state, including several 4A and 5A teams competed.
In 2007, the largest field ever, 17 schools and 700 athletes, competed.
Yale is not certain how large this year’s field will be.
The 2009 competition tips off at 10:30 a.m. with the field events including shot put, discus, pole vault, high jump and long jump.
In the freshman long jump, Nossek holds the record of 16 feet, 4 inches set in 2007.
Prior to Nossek’s leap, no Payson athlete held a Rotary record.
Last year, Payson individual winners included Gunner Bauer (800 meters), Jacquelyn Oesterblad (3200 meters) and Kady Ward (discus).
Bauer and Oesterblad are members of the 2009 team.
Other Longhorns with Rotary medal-winning experiences include Lucy Schouten, David Knauer, Dustin Iles and Sean Ford.
The running events, including a 4x800 coed relay, begin at 11:30 a.m.
The meet record of 9:25:03 was set by Pinnacle High School in 2004.
The 100 and 110 hurdles events will be run at 11:50 a.m.
Immediately after the hurdles, the 1600 meters, 4x100 relay and 400 meters will be run.
Following a 30-minute break, the 300 hurdles, 800 meters, 200 meters, 3200 meters and a 4x400 coed relay are on tap.
Cactus Shadows set the meet record for the coed relay of 3:57.03 three years ago.