If the remainder of the Payson High School track and field season continues to unfold as did the 2013 opener at Queen Creek High School, both Longhorn teams are in for banner years.
The optimism in the PHS camp is because at Queen Creek, two trackers — Bubba Nielson and Logan Morris — set personal records and senior sprinter Morgan Chilson dominated the 100-meter dash.
Also, freshman sprinter Wyatt Chapman gave Payson fans a brief glimpse of a budding star who, by the time he is a senior, could be a state sprint champ.
Neilson set his PR in the high jump by leaping 6 feet, 3 inches, as did Morris who beat his previous personal best by seven inches.
Although the two tied at the same height, Nielson was awarded first and Morris fell to second on fewer misses.
Chilson, who says she is focused on having the best season in her four-year career, won the 100-meter dash in 12.99. She was the only sprinter in the 45-runner field to break the 13-second barrier. In the preliminaries, Chilson was first in 13.12.
“Morgan was dominant,” said coach Johnathan Ball.
Also for Payson in the 100, Michelle Schatz — who this school year transferred to PHS from California — was fifth in the finals in 13.38.
In the preliminaries, she turned in a slightly better time of 13.15, which was just .03 off Chilson’s pace.
While Nielson, Morris, Chilson and Schatz were turning heads, Chapman quietly went about putting together a very impressive performance for a freshman.
In 100-meter finals running against opponents older and more seasoned, Chapman was fifth in 11.42.
In the prelims, he took third by running a 11.33.
The PHS frosh also shined in the long jump taking fourth with a leap of 20 feet, 10.5 inches. In the 4x100 relay he teamed with Trevor Clawson, Noel Struning and Morris to finish eighth (45.73) among 17 teams.
The boys’ cause also received a boost from Payson Bobier who was fifth in the 400-meter dash in a very respectable 52.71.
The 4x400 team of Trevor Clawson, Michael Anderson, Tanner Savage and Morris turned in a clocking of 3:37.94 to finish fifth among 17 relay foursomes.
As a team at Queen Creek, the Horns compiled 36 points and were sixth among the 21 schools that competed.
While that might not be an eye-popping accomplishment, it is quite significant when considering PHS, a D-III school with about 800 students, was competing against some D-I schools with enrollments in the thousands.
The Lady Horns
In the 200 meters at QC, the Lady Horns didn’t fare quite as well as they did in the 100 with Schatz finishing fourth in 27.83 and Chilson sixth with an ET of 28.21.
Schatz and Chilson joined forces with Rachel Knauer and Danya Svir to take third in the 4x100 relay.
Chilson has said the team’s goal is to qualify for the Division III state tournament and once there, run for the gold. But to reach state’s promised land, the foursome is going to have to cut their time closer to the magic 50-second barrier.
In the high jump, Svir contributed 4.5 team points by leaping 4 feet, 8 inches to tie for fourth place with Basha’s Cassidy Roberts.
In the long jump, Chilson leaped 14 feet, 7.75 inches to take ninth, just one place short of earning a team point.
Savannah Grassel also came up just one place shy of scoring, taking ninth in the 800 meters (2:43.08).
Team points are awarded for the top eight places.
The 4x800 relay team of Erin Huffman, Abby Greenleaf, Mckaya McCrary and Natalie Moceri did contribute team points by running to fifth in the 4x800 relay.
Their time of 11.08 was respectable but must be trimmed by 10 to 15 seconds if the foursome is to qualify for the post season.
In the QC team standings, the Lady Horns were fifth with 36.5 points.
The younger members of the track team return to action tomorrow, at the Payson High-hosted Freshman-Sophomore meet set to being about 8 a.m.
While the school district is on spring break March 9 to 24, the team will travel March 15 to Eager-Springerville for the Round Valley Invitational.