A bevy of talented athletes clutching Division III top-10 rankings are primed to fuel the Payson High express as it steams toward the state track and field championships May 10 and 11 at Mesa Community College.
Probably most surprising among the Longhorn elite is freshman Wyatt Chapman, who has shrugged off youth and inexperience to become not only a budding star, but also one of the state’s finest.
In the Division III 100 meter rankings, the speedy frosh has turned in the third fastest time in the state - 11.22.
In the long jump, his leap of 20 feet, 10.50 inches is the fourth best in the state this season.
While the 200 meters might not be Chapman’s best event, he is ninth ranked with a time of 23.05.
To be a state gold medal threat down the road, he’ll need to cut that time into the low to middle 22-second range.
With five meets remaining in the campaign, he has plenty of time to fine tune his techniques and attain that goal.
Chapman is also the anchor runner on Payson’s 4x100 relay team that is state fifth ranked in 44.10.
Trevor Clawson, Noel Stunning and Payson Bobier are also on the team.
Among the Lady Longhorns, senior sprinter Morgan Chilson is looking to cap her stellar four-year career with a standout state performance.
Currently, Chilson’s highest ranking is third in the state 200 meter standings with a 27.08 ET.
Oddly enough, the 100 meters was Chilson’s best event until weeks ago when she rose up to blister out a 200 meter PR time that rocketed her up the D-III state rankings.
If Chilson can lower her time into the high 26-second range, she has a shot of upsetting top ranked Courtnee Oglesby (26.84) of Younker and second ranked Delaney Scanlon (27.08) of Mingus.
In the 100 meters, which for the first three seasons of Chilson’s career, was her best event, her time of 12.97 is the state’s sixth best this year.
Chilson is also a member of the state-third ranked 4x400 relay team that has run a season’s best 4:19.71.
Michelle Schatz, Rachel Knauer and Anya Svir are also members of the team.
In the 4x100 D-III rankings, Chilson, Knauer, Schatz and Svir are eighth ranked at 53.01.
Schatz could also be a big time contender at state considering she is seventh ranked in both the 100 (13.01) and 200 meters (27.46) and is a member of PHS’s two talented relay teams.
Knauer, only a freshman, is ninth ranked in the 400 (63.88) and is an integral runner on the two sprint relay foursomes.
Sophomore Erin Huffman has blossomed this season into a long distance running threat and is now ranked ninth in both the 1600 (5:38.65) and 3200 meters (12:12.81).
On the 4x800 relay team that is 10th ranked at (10:50) she runs a leg as does Kandace Baez, Savannah Grassel and Abby Greenleaf.
For the Horns, Payson Bobier is being counted on to earn all important team points especially in the 400 meters, an event in which he is sitting sixth (51.23).
If he, however, is to contend for a top three medal, he mostly likely will have to break the magic 50 second barrier.
At state, that improvement is attainable for Bobier because he will be running at a much lower elevation and the adrenalin will obviously be flowing.
Bobier is also the leadoff runner on the 4x400 relay team that includes Trevor Clawson, Michael Anderson and Logan Morris.
While the track team members are obviously looking forward to the state finals, they also are focused on the remainder of the regular season, which resumes April 13 at the Fountain Hills Invitational.
On April 20, the two PHS teams will host the Longhorn Invitational.