Track Team Loaded With Potential

Senior Danya Svir is a top contender to win the Division III state high jump title this season after tying for eighth in that event as a junior.

Photo by Keith Morris. |

Senior Danya Svir is a top contender to win the Division III state high jump title this season after tying for eighth in that event as a junior.


Jonathan Ball has a lot of question marks about this year’s Payson High track and field team.

He hopes to find answers before the season gets too old.

And several state qualifiers, as well.

“We had so many seniors last year, we’re replacing guys left and right,” the Longhorns coach said.

“With the boys, we’re pretty young. We only have four state qualifiers coming back but only three with state meet experience back. So we’re trying to find out who’s going to step up for us.”

One of those who’ll be counted on is sophomore Wyatt Chapman, who placed sixth in the 100 meters and seventh in the 200 at last year’s Division III state meet. He should be one of the favorites in the 100 since four of the five who finished ahead of him last year have graduated and the other is from Gilbert Williams Field, which has moved up to Division II this season. So has Gilbert Higley. Goodyear Estrella Foothills’ Kenzel Martin was one place ahead of him in sixth in the 200 as a junior.

Ball said Lakeside Blue Ridge’s Bryce Henderson and Ryan Talbot of Cottonwood Mingus are kids who could challenge Chapman this spring.

Chapman also qualified in the long jump and 400 relay as a freshman.

Trevor Clawson was also on that 400 relay, which set a school record (42.77) in the preliminary heat before finishing second in the finals. He also qualified in the 100, 200, 400 and 1600 relay.

Ball is looking for two others to fill the two spots on the 4x100 left vacant by graduating seniors. “We have a number of guys we’re going to try out to take place of the two we lost,” Ball said.

Among them are Trevor Anderson, Chaz Davis, Matt Davis, Ruben Estrada and Jared Varner.

The other Longhorns back with state-meet experience is Kohl Shannon, who qualified and competed in the pole vault last year.

Jesse Barry qualified in both the high jump and triple jump last season. “He’s worked really hard this year,” Ball said.

The coach said sophomore Brian Skinner is poised to have a strong season. “I can see him qualifying in six to eight events,” Ball said. “He’s really athletic. We’re trying to figure out where we can place him for him to help us the best in a particular meet.”

Sophomore Gerardo Moceri is a strong distance runner. “He really put in a lot of effort in the offseason,” Ball said. “His personal record (in the 1,600) was about 5:12 last year and he already went sub-5:00 at 5,000 feet. To run that fast this year in the season, that’s impressive. He’ll get better when we go down to the Valley. He’s going to be pretty good for us.”

Ball has also been impressed with the effort by Varner, a senior “His speed’s impressed me,” the coach said. “He’s earned the right to run on the 4x100 right now. He’s also going to compete in the triple jump.”

Junior Braden Hancock is new to the team, but impressed the coach with sixth-place showing in the long jump in the season-opening Skydome Classic at Northern Arizona University, as well as a 5-foot 8-inch high jump for eighth place. “I think he’ll be up to six feet in the next few meets,” Ball said of the high jump.

Danya Svir is back for her senior season with the girls team after qualifying for the state meet in the 200, 400, 300 hurdles and the high jump and ran on the fourth-place 400 relay, as well as on the 1,600 relay. But it’s the high jump where she really excels. She tied for eighth in that event as a junior. Her coach says she has a chance to win it this year.

“I’ve just been really impressed with her progression over four years,” Ball said. “She’ll be one of the favorites in the high jump this year.”

She’s added the discus this season. “She’s throwing real well,” Ball said. “She should be a state qualifier. She’s just all-around athletic.”

Svir wasn’t a member of the 400 relay when it set the school record last year. Two of those girls have graduated, but sophomores Rachel Knauer and Emily Lofano-Masse return. “We have three solid girls, so we’re just looking for one to step up,” Ball said. “It looks like it’s going to be (senior) Jesse Cline.”

Knauer was 10th in the 400 prelims at state as a freshman. “She just missed making the finals,” Ball said. “That really motivated her.”

In addition to the open 400 and the 400 relay, she’ll also run in the 200 and 1,600 relay, as well as the 100 at some meets.

In addition to her role on the record-breaking 400 relay, Lofano-Masse also qualified in the 100 as a freshman.

Sophomore Abby Greenleaf ran in the 1,600 relay at state as a freshman. Her coach expects her to qualify in the open distance races this year after leading the Longhorns at the state cross country meet last fall. “She’s looking pretty strong,” Ball said.

Junior McKyla McCrary qualified in the 3,200 last year, as well as in the 3,200 relay. “She’s been real consistent for us over the last three years,” the coach said.

Sophomore Kandace Baez qualified in the 3,200 relay, as well. “She’s really come a long way as a hurdler,” Ball said. “She was only a couple of seconds from qualifying in the 300 hurdles last year. She’s going to help us out in the 1,600 relay, too.”

Freshmen Alana Carrasco and Kortni Egbert will help the team in the throwing events. “They were great at the (Payson Rotarians Freshman-Sophomore Meet) in throwing and I think they’re going to get better,” he said. “Alana threw 29 feet. That’s a real good freshman throw.”

Boys 11th, girls 16th at Horizon Husky Invitational

At the Scottsdale Horizon High Husky Invitational on Saturday, Payson’s boys track team was 11th among 20 teams. The Longhorns scored 21.5 points. Corona del Sol won the boys meet with 128 points.

PHS tied for 16th among 19 teams in the girls meet with six points. Corona del Sol won with 109.

Wyatt Chapman finished second in the 100 meters in 11.00 seconds. He took sixth (23.09) in the 200, although he ran 22.80 in the prelims. He also ran with Ruben Estrada, Trevor Clawson and Chaz Davis to take sixth in the 4x100 (45.89). Chapman tied for 10th (18 feet 10 inches) in the long jump.

Jesse Berry tied for sixth (6-feet) in the high jump and was seventh (38-4.5) in the triple jump. Clawson placed seventh (56.84) in the 400 after running 52.96 in the prelims.

Clawson, Berry, Matt Davis and Chaz Davis combined to take eighth (3:45.81) in the 4x400. Gerardo Moceri was 12th (4:54.13) in the 1600.

Danya Svir placed third in the high jump by clearing 5-feet to lead the girls team. Arcadia’s Shekinah Green won with a 5-2 effort.

Svir also teamed with Rachel Knauer, Kandace Baez and Jesse Cline on Payson’s ninth-place (4:35.19) 1600 relay.


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