It wasn’t the traditional track meet in which boys and girls compete separately in open events, but rather the Chuck Hardt Coed Relay Carnival featured prep athletes of both sexes competing alongside one another — sometimes running legs in opposite directions.
That created an almost frenzied, unorganized look for some spectators accustomed to traditionally-run meets, but the uniqueness of the Carnival allowed athletes from the six schools — Mingus, Sedona, Blue Ridge, Show Low, Fountain Hills and Payson — to enter events they might not compete in any other time this season.
For example, there was a mixed 4x100 relay, a mixed distance 4228 (400, 200, 200 and 800 meters) medley, a mixed distance medley and a mixed 4x100 meter shuttle hurdle relay.
Meet director Chuck Yale called the meet a big success saying the athletes competed hard and had fun.
Head coach Jonathan Ball agreed, “It was good competition and everything really went well.”
Because it was a home meet, however, Ball shouldered the on-the-field duties of making sure the event went off without a hitch.
“It’s a little nerve-racking not being able to just coach,” he said. “But the kids did a good job of being where they needed to be (for their events).”
Yale, who also served as track announcer, assumed the task of directing athletes to starting lines by barking directions as to what events were up next, on deck and where they were to be held.
For the competition, no team scores were kept but “Payson did quite well. There were some good performances,” Yale said.
One of Payson’s finest relay showings occurred in the mixed 4x100 meter shuttle hurdle relay, an event new to the Carnival.
In the relay, the foursome of Jaymi Carlen, Kyle Raecke, Maddie Nossek and Dustin Iles finished second in 1:47.79, just more than a second behind first place Sedona.
The relay was one of the events in which athletes ran legs in opposite directions clearing hurdles as they sped east and west on the PHS track.
In the open events, Holly West drew praise from Yale for her shot-put winning effort of 36 feet, 5 1/2 inches. “That was an exceptional throw,” he said.
West became a double winner when she took the girls discus title with a heave of 97 feet, 8 1/2 inches.
Lauren Nossek also shined winning the girls 800-meter open run in 2:48.40, a full 3 seconds faster than runner-up Bekah Young of Show Low.
Nossek’s older sister, Maddie, won the long jump with a leap of 16 feet, 6 1/2 inches.
She was fresh off winning the 21st Annual Arizona Prep Heptathlon held April 2 and 3 in Queen Creek.
Bryce Davis added another Carnival gold medal to the PHS collection winning the 200 meters in 24.87. In the open 800 meters, Joey Garcia won in 2:19.92.
The Payson effort also received a boost from freshman Chase Walden who was second in the shot-put (41 feet, 1 inch), third in the long jump (17 feet, 10 /12 inches) and eighth in the high jump (5 feet, 4 inches).
Also in the high jump, the Longhorns had four other entrants leap 5 feet, 4 inches and tie for fourth place.
In the open 1600 meters, Iris Molina was second just 6 seconds behind winner Elsie Perkins of Show Low (6:21.58).
Both the boys and girls teams return to action tomorrow, April 10, at the Fountain Hills Invitational.
The younger members of the team will participate April 24 in the Payson Freshman-Sophomore Invitational, which is also unique in that it allows fledgling track and field team members the opportunity to compete against other athletes of the same age and grade level.