A Lady Longhorn track and field team that expects to contend for Division III postseason honors made its 2011 debut against some of the finest teams in the state, including several “big schools” that were formerly members of the 4A and 5A conference.
The occasion was the Desert Classic Invitational that was contested March 5 in Queen Creek.
As a team, the Lady Horns carded 18 points to finish 11th in the 18-team field. With 96 points, Higley was first.
The showing obviously pleased second-year Lady Longhorn coach Jonathan Ball because he returned from QC saying, “I thought we had a good first meet of the season.
“Although we didn’t have any state qualifying times, I was encouraged with how close we came in several events.”
Morgan Chilson was among the athletes who narrowly missed qualifying for state.
Competing in the 100- and 200-meter sprints, Chilson earned spots in the finals of both events.
In the 100 preliminaries, she turned in a clocking of 13.36 to finish eighth in a massive 45-runner field.
In the finals, she posted a 13.60 and was seventh.
Chilson also showed well in the 200, taking fifth in the prelims (27.34) and seventh in the finals (28.28).
The showing brought praise from Ball who said, “I thought she had a great meet, she made the finals against excellent competition and just missed (state) qualifying times in both events.”
The Payson sprinter is the daughter of former Longhorn track star Ty Chilson who in 1986 and 1987 was one of the fastest 100-meter runners in Arizona.
At Queen Creek, Morgan Chilson also joined forces with Jaymi Carlen, Jackie Ballam and Kaitlin Cordell to take seventh in the 4x100 relay (53.90).
Higley won the relay in a very fast 51.50.
Ball called the Payson foursome’s time, “very fast for this early in the season, they ran really strong and just missed the state qualifying time.”
Lydia Galster, a junior competing in her first high school track and field meet, also drew plaudits from Ball, “she had an amazing meet, she was very impressive.”
Among her best performances was as a member of the 4x800 relay in which she was teamed up with Liz Harpe, Logan Conway and Sarah Cluff.
The team sped to a second-place finish in 11:00.39 — an ET bested only by the 10:48.71 turned in by the winning Chandler Perry relay team.
Galster also flexed her speed and endurance in the grueling open 800 meters that drew 38 top-flight half-milers from around Arizona.
Running a 2:39.17, which was almost a full second faster than her seeding time, Galster was sixth.
“Lydia competed really hard,” Ball said.
In addition to the medal-winning performances turned in by Lady Longhorns, the team received several other solid efforts that should yield much-needed roster depth as Payson rolls through the season.
Those performances were turned in by Natalie Moceri (100), Sara Anderson (200), Sarah Cluff (800), Lauren Nossek (800 and high jump), Logan Conway (1600), Ashley Spear (1600), Carol Case (shot put), Ally Erickson (shot put and discus), Alix Parker (discus), Tasha Nielson (discus), Cordell (300-meter hurdles, discus and long jump) and Ballam (100-meter hurdles, triple jump and 300-meter hurdles).
Next up for the Lady Longhorns is the Sedona Friendship Meet, tomorrow, Wednesday, March 9.