The Horizon Honors track teams were a pleasant surprise during the new-fangled state track meet.
The May 14 event took entirely too long, but the wait was worth it for the Eagles as they finished tied for fourth in the boys competition in the Division IV state meet, and the girls also cracked the top 10 at seventh.
The success was a bit of a surprise after the new system pared the divisions down to four from seven, increasing the field for each class to about 60 programs instead of about 30.
Yet, Horizon Honors was one of six schools to finish in the top 10 in both genders.
"We were pleased we finished so strong," Horizon Honors coach Lura Beets said. "Our relay teams did a great job."
The Horizon Honors boys 4x800 relay finished second with a time of 8 minutes, 18.93 seconds to finish 1.54 seconds behind St. Augustine.
"We were so close," Beets said. "We PRed (set a personal record), but came up a little bit short."
The previous best by Mike Holman, Brad Fullman, Dylan Edmundson and Alex Eddy was 8:32.70.
The 4x400 team was nearly as good as Horizon Honors finished with a time of 3:32.81 as Yuma Catholic and Phoenix Christian finished first and second.
The girls relay teams fared well, too, as the Eagles finished third in the 4x400 and eighth in the 4x800.
Individually, the boys team had several impressive performances.
Senior Charles Smyers finished sixth in the 110 hurdles with a time of 16.94 seconds and second in the 300 hurdles with a time of 40.54, just 0.21 off Valley Christian's Caleb Fraley winning effort.
"He qualified for the race in New Mexico (the Great Southwest Classic in Albuquerque June 2-4)," Beets said. "He'll get the chance to see how he will do nationally. It's a great opportunity."
Fullman and Edmundson continued to do well in the distance runs as they finished second and sixth, respectively, in the 1,600-meter run. Fullman also finished seventh in the 800 and Edmundson was fifth in the 3,200.
To finish off scoring for the boys, Eddy was fifth in the 400-meter dash with a time of 52.44.
The girls didn't have as much individual success, but Courtney Nelson was as good as anyone from Horizon Honors.
Nelson grabbed two placements as she finished third in the 100-meter dash in a time of 13.41, which was 0.39 seconds off the winning time of Cheryl Montague of the Academy of Tucson, and took fourth in the 200 with a time of 27.27.
Sophomore Samantha Weeman was sixth in the 400-meter dash in 1:04.45.
All of the Eagles individual placers were seniors other than Weeman, but Beets said Horizon Honors will remain competitive.
"I always hate losing seniors, especially these 12," Beets said. "We have some depth with some young athletes and hopefully we can keep this level of success."
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