A Payson High School senior, bound next fall for Northern Arizona University on a combination football-academic scholarship, has won the Longhorn track and field team’s only East region championship gold medal.
Matt Wilson, who in four years at PHS has built a reputation for his athleticism, character and academic excellence, threw the shot put 48 feet, .25 inches to win first place during the East track finals held May 8 and 9 in Longhorn Stadium.
Although his was the lone gold medal the boys’ team garnered, the Horns did receive a silver medal showing from Cody York in the high jump (6 feet, 4 inches).
Also in the high jump, Ryan Hintze cleared 6 feet, 4 inches, but was third on a tiebreaker.
Hintz also took fourth in the long jump, leaping 19 feet, 10.75 inches, and was a member of the 4x400 relay team that was fourth.
On the foursome with him were Dakoda Wholly, Shane Crisp and York.
Defending state pole vault champion Nick Goodman struggled to a fourth-place East finish at 13 feet, and must improve on that to defend his title at next week’s state finals.
Joey Garcia, Forrest Wadington, Derek Williams and Wholly joined forces for a fourth-place showing in the 4x400 relay.
In the team standings, the Horns compiled 73 points to finish fourth in the six-team East region.
Blue Ridge edged Snowflake, 168 to165, to win the East title.
By finishing in the top four at the region championships, the PHS athletes qualified for the state finals, which will be held May 15 and 16 at Mesa High School.
Along with those athletes at state will be some who earned berths by meeting “Outside Qualifying” standards during the regular season.
Assistant coach Chuck Yale said he would compile a list of those qualifiers early this week, “I’m not sure I have all of them, I don’t want to miss anyone.”