After giving up volleyball to participate in cross country this season, Rachelle Jones has become one of the most inspirational runners on the Lady Longhorn roster.
"Her work ethic leads our team," coach Chuck Hardt said.
The senior's value to the squad turned increasingly evident when she led the Lady Longhorns to a first-place finish at a four-way meet Sept. 13 near Eagar.
Finishing third in a pack of 32 runners, Jones fueled the Lady Horns to a meet-low 29 points.
Despite having former Payson stars Whitney and Kari Hardt on the Round Valley team, the Elks had to settle for a second-place showing with 34 points. Trailing Payson and Round Valley were Holbrook (95) and Show Low (100).
Jones covered the approximately 2.6-mile Saffell Canyon course in 18:37. Whitney Hardt, the defending state champion, took first place in 16:28.
Trailing Jones across the finish line from Payson were Autumn Herrera (fourth; 19:52), Ashli Herrera (fifth; 20:23) and Tanya Davis (seventh; 20:39).
Also representing the Lady Longhorns were Becca Easton (12th; 21:28), Lacy Myers (13th; 21:34), Alesha Huddlestun (14th; 21:34), Melleny McLaws (18th; 21:40), Brianna Quinlan (25th; 23:45), Charolette Hill (27th; 25:40), Chrystal Riley (28th; 26:01) and Crystal Sprinkle (31st; 26:45).
Because senior Shay McGee, a member of last year's state championship team, is recovering from a hurdling injury in March, she did not compete.
The Lady Horns return to action at 1 p.m. Sept. 28 in the Blue Ridge Yellow Jacket Invitational to be held in Lakeside.