Track Stars Shine At State Meet


Etch Stephanie Ray and the 1998 Lady Longhorn cross country team into the record books.

Both accomplished athletic feats during the past campaign never attained in the five-year history of the sport at Payson High School.

By finishing 28th overall in a field of 121 runners, Ray is the first Lady Longhorn to earn a medal at the state championship meet.

The Lady Horn team, also the 1998 Central Division champions, ran to distinction with the highest state finish ever by a PHS squad -- 7th place with 217 points in an 18-team field.

Tuba City (53) won the state championship, Ganado (59) was second and Window Rock (72) third.

Ray's record finish was accomplished over a 3.1-mile course in 22:01. Only steps behind in 29th place was freshman teammate Leigh Ann Haynes (22:04).

Top honors were taken by Alvina Begay of Ganado in a very fast 19:03. Her closest competition, runner-up Ciji Honahnie of Tuba City trailed by a full 57 seconds.

Other Lady Horns who qualified and ran at the state meet included Amy Davis (50th; 23:26), Katrina Beeler (65th; 24:09), Misti Dorris (66th; 24:10), Bryn Wilkins (81st; 25:07), and Lyndsey Heizer (98th; 26:16).

The state championship meet was held Nov. 7 at Freestone Park in Gilbert.

Boys results
While the Lady Horns were reveling at state, the boys team was struggling partly because ace runner Heath Boyle was home in Payson nursing a strep infection.

Without Boyle, the best the Horns (326 points) could do was a 13th place finish overall in a 20-team field. Powerful Ganado (69) easily ran away with the 3A title over silver medalist Window Rock (104) and third place Tuba City (108).

Of the top-10 team finishers in both the boys' and girls' competition, five in each represented Northern Arizona reservation schools where long distance running is a way of life.

The best individual finish by a Longhorn competitor was carded by Kaare Wagner (18:15) who was 32nd in a field of 145.

Window Rock's Filbert Begay copped the gold medal in 16:26.

Cactus Shadow's ace Brian Benham, who was a thorn in the Horns' side all season, had to settle for third, 11 seconds behind Begay.

Other Payson runners included Jerry Baker (59th; 18:52), Jeremy Lee (65th; 18:58), Nolan Blalock (87th; 19:42), Joe Sanchez (99th; 19:59), Andy Pederson (105th; 20:20) and Mike Sprinkle (129th; 21:45).

Blalock was running at state as an alternate replacing Boyle.

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