A Lady Longhorn 4x100 relay team that broke an 11-year-old school record might not be fast enough to earn a top-four medal at the Division III state meet when it plays out today, May 11, and tomorrow, Saturday, at Mesa College.
As unusual as that might seem, the team’s record-breaking time of 51.20 is actually only sixth best in the division.
“That shows just how difficult Division III is,” said PHS track coach Jonathan Ball.
Janelle Hauptman, Morgan Chilson, Bailey Patterson and Jaymi Carlen set the record May 4 at the Snowflake Invitational. As good as the time was, the foursome had to settle for second place behind a speedy Show Low team that was first in 50.88.
The fastest time in Division III this year is 49.98 set by a Higley relay team.
A Mingus crew has run 50.04, Youngker has turned in a 50.39, Estrella Foothills has been clocked in 50.43 and Show Low’s best is 50.64.
For the Lady Horns to be in the hunt for the gold at state, the runners must lower their time by about two seconds.
Ball contends such improvement is possible, “They still have room (to improve) as I felt two of the hand-offs on Friday were a little slow.”
In addition to the Lady Horns taking to state a good 4x100 team, Payson also has a 4x400 foursome of Bailey Patterson, Lydia Galster, Bethany Sprinkle and Jami Carlen that could contend for a medal.
The team ran 4:14.25 to win the gold at the Snowflake Invitational. The clocking is also the fifth best time turned this season in D-III competition.
But Seton Catholic has run a 3:36.80 which appears almost unbeatable.
Individually for the Lady Horns, Morgan Chilson’s 100 meter clocking of 12.77 is very commendable, but only eighth best in a division loaded with speedsters.
Estrella Foothills’ Jasmin Pratt has run a division-best 12.53 and will be a solid favorite to win the event’s gold medal.
Christine Miles of Coolidge, Show Low’s Leike Elbersen and Estrella Foothills’ Malika Murphy will also be in the chase for gold.
Miles has run 12.59, Elberston has a 12.60 to her credit and Murphy has been timed in 12.63.
Also at state, Payson’s Lydia Galster will be out to medal in the 800 meters — an event she currently ranks eighth in with a time of 2:28.67.
However, in the field with Galster is Rolonda Jumbo of Chinle — a long-distance star many consider to be the best in recent memory. Her time of 2:23.11 is the fastest in D-III this year.
As good as Jumbo is in the 800, it’s not her best event. She’s even faster in the 1600 and 3200 meters, which means she could win three golds at state.
The Lady Horns’ strengths are not the field events but Carlen is ranked seventh in the triple jump and Hauptman is fifth-ranked in the high jump.
Carlen has leaped 34 feet, 1.50 inches and Hauptman has vaulted 9 feet, 7 inches.
In past years, the current Lady Longhorn team might have been good enough to make considerable noise at state.
But two years ago, the Arizona Interscholastic Association did away with the conference/region format and replaced it with divisions and sections.
That reconfiguration lumped some smaller schools, like Payson, in the same division with much larger schools like Tucson Amphitheater, Williams Field, Mingus and Higley.
Now, with many more athletes representing metropolitan high schools vying for honors, the competition level has been turned up several notches.