New Payson High School track and field coach Jonathan Ball is convinced Maddie Nossek can become one of the state’s finest all-around athletes.
His faith in Nossek, who will be a senior next year, has its roots in her performances last season and in the heptathlon at the prestigious 34th Annual Southwest Track and Field Classic.
“She finished in 14th place and established herself as a front runner for next year’s Great Southwest as eight athletes in front of her were seniors this year,” Ball said.
In the meet, held June 4 through June 6 at the University of New Mexico, Nossek was competing against 23 invited athletes from around the country including Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Kansas, Missouri and Pennsylvania.
“Maddie was invited because of her outstanding marks in the high jump, long jump and 200-meter dash,” Ball said. “Of the seven events (in the heptathlon), she had never participated in three.”
They were the 100 meters, 800 meters and javelin.
In the shot put, which is a heptathlon event, Nossek had competed only once — at the Payson Open last season.
Although Nossek was a novice in several of the events, she finished with a commendable 3,892 points.
“I was impressed with Maddie’s showing, she is a fighter,” Ball said. “Although we were very happy with her overall performances, she still has room to improve, and with hard work, can become one of the best heptathletes in the region and one of the best in the nation.”
In the rigorous two-day competition, invitees opened with the 100-meter hurdles.
“She covered the 10 hurdles in 17.41 good for 551 points,” Ball said.
In the high jump, Nossek was 15th going over the bar at 4 feet, 10 inches to add 599 points to her tally. In the shot put she had one of her finest individual efforts finishing fourth with a heave of 31 feet, 2 inches. The effort was worth 497 points.
Nossek wrapped up opening day with the 200-meter dash, winning 676 points for her time of 27.44.
Shaye Mauer of Cedar City took the dash title in 25.03.
Nossek finished opening day with 2,323 points.
On the second day, she competed in the long jump (16 feet, 8 inches; 587 points), javelin (69 feet, 5 inches; 310 points) and 800 meters (2:31.70; 672 points).
The turning point in the heptathlon might have occurred after the less than stellar showing in the javelin, an event that is not a part of Arizona High School track and field competitions.
“At that point, many athletes would kind of throw in the towel as she was very disappointed in her javelin throw and had the most grueling (event) of the two days, the 800 meters run, left,” Ball said. “Instead of complaining, coming up with excuses or just going through the motions, Maddie showed amazing determination in the 800.”
She finished fifth, just 5 seconds behind Mauer, the event champion.
“She put everything behind her and ran a great race,” Ball said.
A Lady Longhorn athlete once held the state record for most points in a heptathlon.
In 1999, Stephanie Robertson set the mark of 4,442 points that was broken in 2005 by Yuma Cibola’s JennaBree Tollestrup. She tallied 4,474 points.
The heptathlon has been a part of the women’s track and field scene since the early 1980s, when it replaced the pentathlon.
The javelin throw and 800 meters were added to the former pentathlon to make the seven-event competition. It was first contested at the Olympic level in 1984.
The event gets its name from the Greek word “hepta” which means seven.
In competing at the Great Southwest, Nossek joins several other PHS track and field athletes who once earned invitations to what is widely considered one of the most competitive and exclusive meets in the nation.
Former Longhorn invitees include Nicole Engstrom, Todd Reid, Bo Althoff, Rheanna Martinez, T.J. Clifford, Jon Gunzel, Darren Reid, Mark Hochstetler and Robertson.