Payson High School cross country coach Chuck Hardt is the first to admit that long distance running is a lonely sport that attracts a special type of athlete.
Those who choose to participate in cross country do so knowing they probably won't receive the fan support or accolades their counterparts in football and basketball are afforded.
Hardt would like to change the lack of recognition cross country runners receive.
A huge step in correcting that slight would be for a nice-sized crowd of supporters to show up at the Longhorns season-opening meet when it begins at 3:15 p.m. Sept. 3 on the Payson Golf Course.
"We'd really like to have students, parents and everyone turn out," Hardt said.
On hand to participate in the season's first run will be teams representing Alchesay, Blue Ridge, Mingus, Seton and Snowflake.
Hardt expects the event to turn into a highly competitive run that should provide plenty of excitement for onlookers.
The high school event will begin with a varsity girls run which will be followed immediately by the boys competition.
Prior to the high school showdown, at about 2:30 p.m., the Rim Country Middle School Maverick cross country team will host its first meet of the year.
The middle school course will be one loop, or about 1.6 miles around PGC. The high school course will consist of two loops or about 3.1 miles.
The competition will provide supporters of our youth the opportunity to show they appreciate the efforts of the fledgling athletes.
Stop by the meet and cheer on the PHS runners. They'll appreciate it.
Calling all kickers
Before heading out to this evening's season-opening football game pitting Payson against Glendale Cortez, stuff a few extra dollars in your pocket for raffle tickets.
Raffle winners will be asked to attempt field goals during half-time ceremonies. Any fan who successfully toes a field goal will be awarded $500 in prize money. Another $500 will go to a PHS scholarship fund in that person's name.
The distance of the kick is being kept secret, but Payson High Athletic Director Dave Bradley says it is a reasonable distance.
In addition to purchasing tickets, fans can earn a kicking opportunity by being the lucky recipient of one of 10 miniature footballs that will be tossed into the crowd. The lucky football will be the one signed by a local automobile service business.
The event is being sponsored by Payson NAPA Auto Parts and several of its affiliates. All proceeds from the ticket sales ($1 each; six for $5) will benefit the Longhorn football club.