It was quite a show the Lady Longhorn track and field team put on March 19 at the Round Valley Invitational in Eagar.
But it will have to be an even bigger hit if the team is to win the East regional championship when the finals are held May 7 and 8.
The need for improvement is because the two teams that finished ahead of the Lady Horns, Snowflake and Blue Ridge, are both East foes and will be battling PHS for honors during the finals.
On the bright side, three East teams — Show Low, Round Valley and Alchesay — finished behind the Lady Horns.
In the 20-team standings, Payson took the bronze with 70 points to trail the Lobos (102) and Blue Ridge (86). Show Low was fourth with 64.5 points. Host Round Valley had 38 points and was seventh. Struggling Alchesay took 20th with just three points.
Individually, senior Maddie Nossek copped the spotlight, winning two gold medals, a silver and a fourth-place finish.
“She was awesome,” assistant coach Chuck Yale said.
In the 100-meter hurdles, Nossek was clocked in 17:31 which was .01 seconds faster than runner-up Katharine Mounce of Globe.
While the two rivals won’t meet in the East championships, because Globe is a member of the South, they will probably clash again in the state finals May 13-15 on the campus of Arizona State University.
Nossek took her second RV Invitational gold in the long jump with a leap of 16 feet, 9 inches that was more than 1-1/2 feet longer than her nearest competitor.
The 200 meters event featured a nip and tuck race between St. Johns rookie speedster Savannah Brown and Nossek. Brown eventually won the race in 28:02, just .03 seconds quicker than Nossek.
In the 800 meters, Nossek was fourth in 2:38.47.
Chinle sensation Rolando Jumbo, one of the country’s finest prep runners, took first in 2:29.66.
The four events that Nossek competed in — long jump, 800 meters, 200 meters and 100-meter hurdles — are all required events in the heptathlon — a daunting, seven-event multi challenge for which she is training. At season’s end, she hopes to be invited to the prestigious 35th Annual Great Southwest Track and Field Invitational to compete in the heptathlon.
Also for the Lady Horns in Round Valley, Holly West finished atop the standings in the shot put with a healthy heave of 33 feet, 2-1/2 inches.
Tamara Slim of Pinyon was a distant second with a throw of 29 feet, 1 inch.
In the 200-meter dash, freshman Morgan Chilson ran to a sixth-place showing in 13:52. While most of those finishing ahead of her were upperclassmen, there was another first-year runner in the mix.
St. Johns’ Brown was second in 13:32.
The emergence of the two young speedsters means Chilson and Brown could be going head to head for at least four years to come.
In the 400-meter dash, senior Kyndel Lann turned in a 1:05.61 to win the seventh heat, but finished sixth overall.
Lann also teamed with Kierstin Mock, Laura Aatlonen and Katie Welker to finish second (4:29.86) in the 4x400 relay and was eighth in the pole vault with a height of 6 feet, 6 inches. In her fourth event, the triple jump, she was sixth, carding a mark of 28 feet, 6 inches.
The 4x100 relay crew of Saige Bloom, Jaymi Carlen, Sara Anderson and Chilson was fifth overall in 56.80.
Anderson also ran the 100 meters, finishing 24th in a 56-runner field.
More Lady Horns
Others finishers for Payson in RV were Bethany Sprinkle (16th; 200 meters), Jackie Ballam (32nd; 800 meters), Liz Harpe (ninth; 800 meters), Cory Levac (20th; 1600 meters), Jacquelyn Oesterblad (19th; 1600 meters), Marcy Ward (27th; 1600 meters), Lucy Schouten (14th; 3200 meters), Aatlonen (16th; long jump), Carlen (25th; long jump), Tanya Olson (12th; triple jump) and Cassie Johnson (25th; shot put).
The team returns to action today, March 26, at the Chandler Rotary Invitational. It continues through tomorrow, Saturday.