Lady Longhorns Say Goodbye To Second Crown

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There will be no repeat for the defending state champion Lady Longhorn cross country team.

The bid for back-to-back titles ended Saturday in Anthem where the Lady Horns finished a distant ninth in the Class 3A state championship run.

Hopi claimed the state crown with a meet-low 55 points. Ganado was second (83) and Tuba City (111) third.

Payson tallied 230 points.

In the individual standings, senior Rachelle Jones turned in Payson’s best effort finishing 23rd in 20:32.54.

Since the onset of the campaign, coach Chuck Hardt called Jones the heart and soul of the Lady Longhorns’ team.

Former Payson High running star Whitney Hardt won her second consecutive 3A championship in 18:33. Her younger sister Kari, who starred for Rim Country Middle School last season, was second in 18:45.

Hopi’s Kelsey Hardt finished third in 19:02. Kelsey is Whitney and Kari’s aunt.

Whitney and Kari moved to Round Valley with their family last summer after her father, Shawn Hardt, was named the Elks head football coach.

Only days prior to the state championship run, Lady Longhorn coach Chuck Hardt predicted that Whitney, Kari and Kelsey could sweep the top three finishes at state.

With the 2002 cross country campaign at an end, the Lady Longhorns will gather one final time for their annual awards ceremony. That date will be announced later this week.

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