Ex Horns Hanging On To State Records

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Former Payson High School sports stars Rheanna Martinez, R.C. LaHaye, Whitney Hardt, Bo Althoff, Darren Reid, Todd Reid and Mark Hochstettler have something in common.

All are listed in Arizona Interscholastic Association record books as continuing to hold prep sports records.

And that’s quite a feat since most of them graduated from Payson High more than a decade ago.

Martinez holds the Class 3A triple jump record with a mark of 37 feet, 2-1/2 inches that she set in 2000, her junior year at PHS.

Whitney Hardt, arguably the best long distance runner to ever don a Lady Longhorn uniform, holds two Class 3A marks.

In the 1500 meters, the 4:53.96 she ran as a freshman in 2001 continues to be the fastest a 3A athlete has ever run.

The speedster also holds the record in the 1600 meters of 4:54.44, set in 2002, her junior year at PHS.

Hardt also holds records in 3200 and 800 meters, but she set those marks while a student at Round Valley High School.

Her family moved to Springerville-Eagar at the conclusion of her sophomore year at PHS.

Althoff, now an assistant track and field coach at PHS, soared 16 feet, 5-3/4 inches in 1992, which continues to be 3A’s best mark.

In 2005, at 31 years of age, Althoff returned to the sport that once drew him nationwide attention.

His decision to take up pole-vaulting after being out of the sport for about 11 years was a result of his coaching stint with the Longhorn track and field team last spring.

“I’d watch the kids vault and I kind of missed doing it,” he said. “Then I went to an open meet and I saw some older guys vaulting about 15 feet. I told myself, ‘heck I could do that.’”

And he did, clearing 15 feet, 6 inches at a USA meet in Tempe.

Just last year at a “Kiss the Sky” pole vaulting camp held at Camp Tontozona, Althoff — a camp coach — dazzled the young campers by vaulting higher than the best of the group.

Darren Reid, one of the Longhorns’ finest all-around athletes holds the 3A record in the triple jump of 48 feet, 8-3/4 inches — a mark he set in 1991.

Reid also holds the PHS high jump record at 6 feet, 10-1/2 inches — a mark that is also among the state’s top 10.

His older brother, Todd, ran a 37.95 in the 300 intermediate hurdles in 1988. That mark continues to be the conference’s fastest and is only .94 seconds off the 5A record set in 2006 by Mesa Westwood’s Cylend Simmons.

Following Todd Reid’s graduation from PHS, he attended California Azusa Pacific for one year, but then transferred to Oklahoma Baptist where he became an NAIA All-American.

The younger Reid joined his older brother at Oklahoma Baptist where he also became an NAIA All-American. During his collegiate career, he set a record in the indoor pentathlon that has yet to be equaled.

Hochstettler, the son of former PHS athletic director Harry Hochstettler, is remembered in Payson as one of the finest running backs in Longhorn history and a pretty fair country basketball player.

But it was his exploits in track and field that earned him his greatest recognition. In 1989, he ran 1:53.30 in the 800 meters to set a 3A mark that continues to be the state’s best.

After graduating from PHS, Hochstetler attended Stanford University where he continued his career.

During Hochstettler’s track career at PHS, the Horns had another half miler, Eric Anderson, now a Payson dentist, who was also one of the state’s finest.

In most seasons, Anderson would have been the ace of the track team, but with the very fast Hochstetler as a teammate, he was most often a runner-up in the 800 meters.

In1991, former Lady Horn Nicole Engstrom threw 143 feet, 11 inches to come as close to the 3A record of 152 feet as any state athlete has since the record was set by Page’s Chyarissa Bailey in 1985.

After graduating from PHS, Engstrom went on to become a captain of the University of Arizona’s track team. Once an Olympic hopeful, a shoulder injury shortened her career. Today, she works as a Valley-area police officer.

In wrestling, R.C. LaHaye — now the head wrestling coach at Grand Canyon University — chalked up 180 wins in his varsity career from 1998 to 2001. That mark is the seventh best record in prep wrestling annals.

Although the high school wrestling record books have not been recently updated, former Longhorn coach Dennis Pirch is currently listed as the record holder for most state championship won by a single coach. From 1980 to 2000, Pirch coached 10 state championship teams — five of which were won consecutively.

With a 378-44 won loss career record, Pirch is also listed second in all-time wins for dual meets.

Morenci’s Gilbert Padilla is listed as the record holder with a 433-155-7 mark.

Also in the wrestling record book, the 1999 Longhorn team is ranked third in number of pins with 265.

The team’s mark in 1997 of 249 pins is fourth best.

In 1999 the Horn wrestling team won 482 matches, which is fourth best among all schools 1A to 5A.

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