Wyatt Chapman might feel like the new kid on the block when he and his Payson High School track and field teammates travel to Mesa College on May 10 and 11 to compete in the Division III state championships.
As a PHS freshman he will be competing in his first ever state meet, while most of his teammates are seniors tested by years of participating in the season-ending showdowns.
Fellow Horns Payson Bobier, Richard Nielson and Logan Morris, all seniors, are top-10 ranked in their respective events and might want to huddle with the untested frosh to give him a few words of veteran advice.
While Chapman is a rookie, he is certainly not without talent as evidenced by his sterling performances all season long.
PHS coach Jonathan Ball calls Chapman the finest freshman he has coached either at Payson High or at his previous school in New Mexico.
Chapman advances to state eighth-ranked in the Division III 100 meters with a personal best 11.22.
He is the only freshman ranked among the top-10 100-meter sprinters.
To be a legitimate gold medal threat at Mesa, Chapman will most likely have to break the coveted 11-second barrier.
The two fastest sprinters in the state this season, Deuce Muldrow of Coolidge and Higley’s Tristan De Costa, have both run 10.79. While cutting .43 off Chapman’s 100-meter time might seem to be a tall order, anything can happen at state when the adrenaline gets flowing.
Also, Chapman will have the advantage of running at a lower altitude after training at Payson’s 5,000-plus feet.
In the long jump, the PHS plebe is fifth-ranked with a leap of 20 feet, 10.5 inches. That distance, should he duplicate it, could earn him a state medal. But, if he’s going for the gold, he’s most likely going to have to surpass 21 feet.
In addition to being guaranteed a seed to state in the 100 meters and long jump, Chapman will run on both the 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams.
The 4x100 team, which also includes Trevor Clawson, Noel Struning and Bobier, is state sixth-ranked with a time of 44.10.
The 4x400 team of Michael Anderson, Morris, Clawson and Chapman is 10th ranked at 3:49.93.
In 400-meter D-III standings, Bobier is fifth-ranked with a very commendable time of 50.72. To medal at Mesa, he almost assuredly will have to break the 50-second barrier.
The high jump is the only event Payson has two top-10 ranked athletes. Nielson has jumped 6 feet, 4 inches and is tied for fourth in the state with Paden James of Page. The state’s top-ranked jumper, Snowflake’s Everett Lunt, has leaped 6 feet, 5 inches. Longhorn Logan Morris recently jumped 6 feet, 3 inches and is now state seventh-ranked.
Neilson is also ranked in the pole vault, sitting ninth with a height of 12 feet.
The state meet is traditionally the end of the high school regular season, those who do well can be invited to a variety of postseason competitions.