The loss of the Lady Longhorns number-two runner to an injury probably cost the team the East regional championships.
With Shay McGee out of the lineup at the Nov. 1 championships, the Lady Horns had to settle for a third place finish behind host Alchesay and Round Valley.
The Falcons and Elks tied for the East title with 40 points each. The crown, however, was awarded to Alchesay on a tie breaking decision involving each school’s sixth place athlete. Since Alchesay’s runner finished ahead of Round Valley’s, the Falcons were crowned champs.
With 44 points, Payson was third.
Had McGee, a veteran of the Lady Longhorns state championship run last season, been available, the Lady Horns almost certainly would have posted less points than either the Falcons or the Elks.
McGee suffered a knee injury during a fall-break vacation in Colorado. The injury kept her out of the Sludge to the Judge run Oct. 25 and the regional championships. She also missed three weeks of training.
She might, however, be available to participate at the state meet when it begins at 11:45 a.m. today (Friday) in Anthem.
In the state showdown, the Lady Horn banner could be hoisted by a crew of seven runners that participated in the regional title games.
Among the most accomplished is senior Rachelle Jones who paced the team with a fourth place finish in 21:10. Other runners included Alesha Huddlestun, 7th, 22:08; Autumn Herrera, 8th, 22:29; Ashli Herrera, 12th, 23:10; Becca Easton, 18th, 24:31; Brianna Quinlan, 22nd, 25:14; and Lacy Myers, 27th, 26:46.
Following the race, coach Chuck Hardt praised the team for its valiant effort in the absence of McGee.
“The girls got together knowing they wouldn’t have their No. 2 runner and formed a race plan” he said. “They attacked the course with a lot of courage and almost pulled it (a regional title) off.”