Maddie Nossek saved her best for the biggest meet of the season.
Competing March 27 at the 70th annual Rotary Invitational at Chandler High School, the Payson High School track and field star set personal records in both the long and high jumps.
Most impressive about the feat is she was competing against some of the finest athletes, from 1A to 5A high schools, in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Colorado.
Also, the Saturday portion of the two-day meet was “seeded,” meaning athletes could compete by invitation only based on their early season times and distances.
In short, Saturday’s invitees were the elite athletes.
Probably the most impressive of Nossek’s feats in Chandler was her long jump of 17 feet 6-1/2 inches that earned her a tie for second place with Chandler High’s Alexis Clay.
Prior to the meet, Nossek had gone over 17 feet only twice in her career.
At Chandler, “she eclipsed that mark three times,” coach Johnathan Ball said. “Her jump of 17 feet got her into the finals. Her first jump in the finals was 17 feet, 3 inches and her last jump was 17 feet, 6-1/2 inches.”
The coach called the final jump, “a huge personal record — it was a great effort.”
The only athlete to leap further than Nossek was gold medalist Jasmine Todd of Chandler, who went 17 feet, 8 inches.
While the distances were certainly commendable, they might have been even greater had not all the athletes been forced to jump into a ferocious head wind that roared through CHS stadium.
In the high jump, Nossek soared over the bar at 5 feet, 3 inches to finish third behind Desert Vista’s Tinisha Toussiant (5 feet, 5 inches) and Chandler’s Hannah Carlson (5 feet, 4 inches).
In competing in both jump events, Nossek had to alternate attempts back and fourth between the two since both were being held at the same time.
Those chores make competing doubly difficult since athletes cannot focus on a single event and must change sites frequently.
Nonetheless, “Maddie was spectacular in both events,” said Ball.
During Friday’s competition which was unseeded, or open to all prep athletes, Nossek set a personal shot put record of 32 feet, 8 inches — a mark which earned her an outside qualifying spot into the state championship when it is held May 13-15 on the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe.
In the open 400, she turned in a clocking of 1:02.02 that was the second fastest time of the day, and also qualified her for state.
With so many accomplishments in a variety of events, Ball’s biggest challenge at the state meet will be to place his star in the maximum four events in which she is eligible to compete.
In Chandler, Nossek was not the only PHS athlete to set personal bests.
Freshman Morgan Chilson set a PR of 28:52 in the 200 meters after a sub par performance in the 100.
“She bounced back,” said Ball.
Also in the 200, Katie Welker earned a heat medal with a PR of 28:95.
In the 3200 meters, Ashley Spear set a mark of 13:59 that was 30 seconds better than her previous best time.
Liz Harpe claimed a heat medal in the 800 with a career low time of 2:41.25.
“She had a really nice meet, running a good leg of the 4x400 (relay) and a very competitive leg of the 4x800,” Ball said.
Lucy Schouten and Jacquelyn Oesterblad, a pair of Lady Horn stalwarts from the 2009 cross-country campaign, set season best marks in the 1600 meters.
Schouten was clocked in 6:11 and was third in her heat. Oesterblad ran a 6:18.
In the 800 meters, Sarah Cluff finished in 2:44.90, her best of the season.
“It was a very strong effort,” Ball said.
In the field events, Evalina Salminen medaled in discus and Cassie Johnson in shot put.
The Lady Horns will return to action April 7 at the Chuck Hardt Coed meet on PHS track.
The meet will be the first opportunity local fans will have to cheer the athletes in a home competition. The only other Payson home meet is April 24 —the annual Freshman-Sophomore Invitational.