Track Stars Shine At State Meet

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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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