First-Year Runner Tapped Cc All-Star

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A teenager who took up cross country because she thought "running with my dog was fun," has been chosen to participate in the Arizona Coaches Association North vs. South All-Star meet.

Payson High School senior Rachelle Jones was named last week to the North team at meeting of high school cross country coaches.

The annual race, which pits the best senior runners in the state against one another, will be held June 6 on the campus of Central Arizona College in Casa Grande.

Last fall, after playing high school volleyball for three seasons, Jones opted to give up the sport and try out for the PHS cross country team. The teenager said she made the choice because one of her family responsibilities was to exercise the dog which she found enjoyable.

"I liked running with him and I wanted to try something new, so I went out for the (cross country) team,"she said.

When she first turned out for the squad, she had no idea she would someday stake claim to an all-star berth.

"I hadn't even heard of the coaches all-star run," she said.

As a first-year member of the Lady Longhorn team, it didn't take long for Jones to earn the respect of coach Chuck Hardt.

"What set her apart was her work ethic --he had almost a blind faith to do what was asked of her," he said.

As the Lady Longhorns No. 1 runner, Jones finished fourth in the East region meet held Nov. 1 in Alchesay Whiteriver.

The coach said that performance was her best of the season.

"She had a race plan and ran really smart," he said. Her showing helped the Lady Horns finish third in the meet behind Alchesay and Round Valley. At the state meet, she finished 22nd in a field of more than 100 of the best runners in the 3A conference.

Jones' performance in the season has caught the attention of coaches at Prescott Yavapai College.

If Jones opts to attend school there, she'll join former Lady Longhorn star Leighann Haynes who competed for the Roughriders last year and is expected to return next season for her sophomore campaign.

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