Refusing to be slowed by the searing mid-afternoon heat and the rugged Desert Canyon Golf Course which featured hay bales as obstacles Payson's girls and boys cross country teams turned in first and second finishes at the Fountain Hills Invitational contested Sept. 27.
The PHS girls easily ran away with the invitational title finishing with a meet low 28 points. Only runner-up Fountain Hills (45 points) gave the powerful Lady Horns much of a tussle.
In the boys' competition, the Horns came up with one of their most determined efforts, running their way to silver medal honors (68 points) behind meet champion Fountain Hills (26).
The best effort among the 10 Lady Horns who competed was turned in by LeighAnn Haynes. The junior speedster topped the 50-runner field touring the course in 21:37.
PHS coach Chuck Hardt attributed the victory to "her strength, which carried her through a tough course."
For the boys' team, senior Wes Sprinkle paced the Horns, finishing fifth in 19:42. His effort at Fountain Hills, Hardt said, proved Sprinkle has "bounced back after struggling at Blue Ridge (Sept 23)."
Most of the cross country team members will return to action Friday at the Alchesay Invitational Meet in Whiteriver.
However, some Lady Longhorns will remain in Payson to train for the 28th Annual Conley Tempe Cross Country Invitational to be held Saturday.
The prestigious meet will pit the top-20 teams in the state, regardless of school size classification, against one another. The girls race is slated to begin at 3:15 p.m. on the north soccer field at Tempe Kiwanis Park.
The invitation to participate in the Conley run which came late last week represented the first-ever to be offered a Payson cross country team.
Individual results from Fountain Hills:
Longhorn boys: Wes Sprinkle, 5th, 19:46; Cole Newbold, 6th, 19:52; Daniel Jacobs, 11th, 20:27; Noah Flores, 18th, 21:18; Joe Behrens, 29th, 21:54; Martin Garcia, 32nd, 22:04; Danny Malloy, 43rd, 23:12; Tanner Morgan, 47th, 24:02; Troy Marrs, 524, 24:08; James Rivas, 52nd, 24:10
Longhorn girls: Leigh Anne Haynes, 1st, 21:37; Whitney Hardt, 2nd, 22:04; Amy Davis, 7th, 24:14; Lily Flores, 8th, 24:16; Michelle Closs, 10th, 24:23; Shalynn McGee, 14th, 25:02; 18th Mary Mendoza, 18th, 25:26; Sarah Hummer, 19th, 26:44; Ashli Herrera, 33rd, 30:32; Stephanie Marrs, 38th, 32:39