One of the most talented freshmen in Payson High School track and field history, together with a solid group of veterans, will lead the Longhorn boys track and field team into the D-III state championships Friday, May 10-11 at Mesa College.
All season long, first-year sprinter Wyatt Chapman has been turning heads as he blazed to wins in the sprints, long jump and relays.
Joining the rookie in the state cinder wars will be veterans Payson Bobier, Richard “Bubba” Nielson and Logan Morris — all seniors ranked in the top 10 statewide in their respective events.
While Chapman is a freshman, he has displayed the grit and poise of a veteran as evidenced by his sterling performances all season.
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 ranked No. 8 in the Division III 100 meters with a personal best 11.22 seconds.
He is the only freshman ranked among the top 10 among 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.
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 Struening and Bobier, is ranked sixth in the state with a time of 44.10.
The 4x400 team of Michael Anderson, Morris, Clawson and Chapman is ranked 10th 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.
In the high jump, Payson has two, top 10 contenders. 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.