Although the Payson High School boys' cross country team came up one point shy of qualifying for the state championships, the Longhorns were well-represented in the finale contested Saturday in Gilbert.
By virtue of a top-15 individual finish in the East Regional finals two weeks ago, senior Wes Sprinkle earned the right to advance to state.
There, he did well, running to a 40th-place finish in 18:22. The showing represented a significant improvement over last season when he finished 57th in 19:20.
Cross country coach Chuck Hardt had plenty of praise for Sprinkle, saying he is a good athlete and, equally as important, a fine young man.
The South region took quite a pounding in the first round of the Class 3A state football tournament losing three of four games.
Only South champion Globe survived the first round which was played Nov. 3 at the site of the highest seed.
While the South stumbled, the East flourished winning all four of its opening round games. The West performed well sending three teams to the quarterfinals. The foursome of North region seeds fell in the opening round. That failure came as quite a shock to state football fans because North champion Ganado was one of the teams that was predicted to own the firepower to give unbeaten Blue Ridge a tussle. The state second-ranked Hornets were eliminated 20-14 in OT by Snowflake.
With eight teams remaining in the tournament, a pair of quarterfinals games were scheduled for last evening (Thursday) at Mesa College. In those contests, the early game (5 p.m.) featured West representative Parker (8-2) against East three-seed Round Valley (6-4).
At 8 p.m., Globe (8-2) took on East runner-up and defending state champion Show Low. (Results of either game not available at press time).
At 5 p.m. this evening (Friday), East four-seed Snowflake challenges West champion Wickenburg (7-3). The quarterfinals wrap up at 7 p.m. when Chandler Catholic Seton (8-2) tries to put an end to unbeaten (10-0) Blue Ridge's state run.
The survivors of the four games clash Nov. 17 in the semifinals.
The possibility exists that all the East state seeds Blue Ridge, Show Low, Round Valley and Snowflake could advance to the final four showdown.
Onlookers have long said that the East is by far the dominant region in the 3A conference.
This year's representatives are steadfastly upholding the images of the "Beasts from the East."
The state championship will be decided Nov. 25.