The premier track and field meet of the year kicks off at 12:30 p.m. today, Friday, May 14, with qualifiers from around the state gathering on the campus of Arizona State University to compete in the 3A state championships.
The meet continues through tomorrow on Joe Selleh Track in Sun Angel Stadium.
Individual and state winners over the course of the two days will receive medals, trophies and bragging rights as the finest athletes in Arizona.
Winners are also invited to the Meet of Champions that annually attracts the best athletes from all school classifications 1A to 5A.
To compete in the state finals, high school athletes had to qualify by finishing among the top four in their respective events at one of the four regional meets held last week. Athletes could also earn berths by meeting minimum standards at selected competitions throughout the season.
The athletes who enter in that fashion are known as “Outside Qualifiers.”
Lady Longhorn Laura Aaltanon, an exchange student from Finland, is an example of an athlete who will be at state as an outside qualifier.
She earned the 3A seed in the 400 meters at the East regional championships held May 7 in Snowflake.
Beth Sprinkle is Payson’s second outside qualifier earning a state seed in the high jump at the Winslow Invitational.
Among the fascinating challenges of state competition is it pits the four region champs against one another in head-to-head, for-all-the-marbles competition.
PHS enters state armed with region champions in six events.
Maddie Nossek was a gold medal winner in the 100 meters, 200 meters, high jump and long jump.
Holly West won the discus and shot put.
For their efforts, both were named Outstanding Female Athletes of the meet.
Nossek won the honor for the track events and West was crowned best among the field events.
Although Nossek advances to state as a sprint champion in the 100 and 200, coach Jonathan Ball is pulling her out of those and entering her instead in the 400 and 800.
He’s opting for that strategy to earn more team points because freshman Morgan Chilson, who was a close second to Nossek in both events at regionals, has a chance of