Very few observers are picking the Longhorns to win the 3A East boys track and field title.
That nod, instead, goes to the Snowflake Lobos — a team that literally ran away with the Winslow Invitational title on April 30 racking up a 140 points in the 21-team field that included several 4A and 5A schools. The closest any team came to the powerful Lobos was runner-up Show Low with 81 points. With 39 points, Payson was a respectable eighth.
Although the Horns are obviously not an East or state favorite, the team does have individuals who could create plenty of noise when the championships tip off today, May 7, and wrap up tomorrow in Show Low.
Among those expected to shine at regionals is Dustin Isles, who set a meet record of 38.99 in the 300-meter hurdles at Winslow.
“That is the oldest meet in Arizona, 78 years running and Dustin owns the record,” coach Jonathan Ball said.
Prior to the Winslow Invitational, Iles’ best time in the event was 39.13.
The coach anticipates Michael Scott, only a freshman, will also do well in the regional showdown.
“At Winslow, he took fourth in the 400 in a pretty tough field,” said Ball. He was clocked in 54.10.
Two of those who finished ahead of him, however, were Show Low and Snowflake hurdlers he will again be paired off against during the East meet.
Blake Brown, a junior, could also provide a spark in Show Low, mostly because he shines in a trio of events — high jump, long jump and triple jump.
His high jump of 5 feet, 10 inches at the Queen Creek Invitational is the third best mark in the East this season.
In the 800 meters, Forrest Wadington is a big favorite to win the region title mostly because his PR of 2:02.26 is almost 8 seconds faster than any East half-miler has recorded this season.
Ball has called Wadington “a running machine.”
Freshman Michael Scott has turned in a clocking of 53.76 in the 400 meters and could earn a medal at regionals if he can find a way to out leg Show Low’s Cody Bell (50.20) and Snowflake’s Hunter Peterson (52.39).
Under the tutelage of former Longhorn pole-vaulting great Bo Althoff, now a PHS assistant coach, sophomore Keith Williams has shown the form it takes to excel in the vault.
He’s cleared 12 feet, 6 inches, which is one of the top five marks in the region this season.
Although Richard Nielson and Chase Walden are only freshmen, they could score points in Show Low, especially in the high jump.
The events the Horns will be lacking during regionals are the 100 and 200 meters, mostly because the team has no athlete in either ranked in the top 10.