Haynes Shines At Junior Olympic National Cross Country Championships

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A full season of grueling training and competition wasn't enough running for Payson High junior Leighann Haynes.

Only days after the high school cross country campaign wrapped up in October, Haynes returned to her favorite sport to begin preparations for participation in the USA Track and Field Junior Olympic program.

Her dedication to cross country paid huge dividends at season's end when Haynes was named a Junior Olympic 2000 All-American runner. She was tapped for the award after finishing 17th at the Junior Olympic National Cross Country Championships held Dec. 9 in Rancho San Raphael Park in Reno, Nev.

Because the theme for the national match was "Run With the Mustangs," Haynes was awarded a porcelain trophy of a wild mustang to go along with her top-20 medal.

To earn a berth in the national championships, Haynes had to qualify at both state and regional meets.

In the state meet held in Glendale last fall, Haynes finished first in her age group. Weeks later at the Region X championships, also in Glendale, she finished fourth and qualified to compete in the national games.

In addition to her accomplishments on the Junior Olympic scene, Haynes has been a member of the Payson High School cross country team the past three seasons.

Last fall, she helped the team earn both an East region championship and a state runner-up finish.

Haynes interest in running was piqued when she joined the middle school track and field team as a sixth-grader. After that, she said, "I kept on running, I like to run."

With the Junior Olympics and school seasons at an end, Haynes said she will take a brief respite from training before joining the Lady Longhorn track and field team next spring.

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