Payson High School track and field coach Jonathan Ball was on target last year when he tagged freshman Richard Nielson as one of the program’s most promising young athletes.
Nielson, now a sophomore, lived up to the coach’s expectations, winning four medals during the March 12 running of the Payson Rotary Frosh-Soph Invitational.
His finest showings were gold medal performances in the 110-meter hurdles and the high jump. He won the hurdles event going away in an impressive time of 18:05.
In the high jump, he soared over 5 feet, 10 inches to best PHS teammate Logan Morris, the runner-up, by two full inches.
The performances of the duo in the high jump insure that the Longhorns will have a strong 1-2 punch for two more seasons.
In the 300-meter hurdles, Nielson turned in an ET of 47.19, but had to settle for second place behind Show Low’s Cody Tenney, who turned in a time of 45.27.
Nielson’s third medal was garnered in the long jump with a leap of 17 feet, 8 inches.
By winning four medals against good competition, Nielson should soon become one of the Horns’ finer varsity performers.
Dawson Beeson was Payson’s only other Rotary gold medalist, winning the freshman 800 meters in 2:22.16. His time was a full four seconds quicker than that recorded by Round Valley silver medalist Mason Trezise.
In the 1600 meters, Beeson was second in 5:26.99, but well behind gold medalist Omar Ewert of Apache Junction (5:03.33).
Trenton Hodges is another of the athletes drawing raves from Ball. In the Rotary clash he was fourth in a hotly contested sophomore 800-meter run in 2:29.53 and sixth in the 1600 meters in 5:42.43.
The Payson effort received top-12 points from Michael McWilliams and Niyal Curi in the freshman 800 meters. McWilliams ran to sixth in 2:39.51 and Curi was 11th in 2:46.67.
The field was one of the largest of the meet, with 14 freshman boys entered.
In the frosh 1600 meters, McWilliams was seventh (6:00.79) and Curi sixth about five seconds in front of his teammate.
While Payson High School is in the midst of spring break, the athletes continue to practice in preparation for their March 18 appearance in the Round Valley Dome Invitational in Eagar.