Autumn Herrera just might be the shining light for the Lady Longhorn track and field team.
At the Phoenix Christian Invitational March 15 at Phoenix College, Herrera emerged as the team's lone gold-medal winner. With a clocking of 5:55.2, she won the 1,600 meters.
Although she was the only first-place finisher, the Lady Horn roster did sport enough depth to earn the team a third-place finish in the 15-team field.
Payson's 88.5 points trailed the tallies of champion Queen Creek (126) and runner-up Chino Valley (93). With 73 points, Scottsdale Christian was fourth.
The third-place showing at the meet could mean the Lady Horns will struggle this year under the loss of several standouts who graduated last spring. The team also lost running star Whitney Hardt, whose family moved to Eagar/Springerville last summer.
One of the upsets of the invitational occurred when the Lady Horns defending state champion 4x800 relay team was defeated by Chino Valley. The Payson foursome, however, has only one member who was a part of the state championship team.
More Payson results
8th, Tianna Golliglee, 14.0.
4th, Shay McGee, 66.6.
4th, Autumn Herrera, 2.46.5; 5th, Alysha Huddleston, 2.48.2; 8th, Brianna Quinlan, 2.51.3.
Alysha Huddleston, 6.09.6; 8th, Brianna Quinlan, 6.26.4.
3rd, Megan Miles, 14.06.3; 5th, Kendra Francis, 14.31.4; 8th, Whitney Heizer, 16.03.
7th, Brittany Owens, NT.
2nd, Haylee Huff, 51.3; 5th, Brittany Owens, 55.4; 7th, Becca Easton, 58.7.
Tie for 4th, Haylee Huff, 4'8".
2nd, Hillari Hardt, 96'1".
4th, Tianna Golliglee, Brittany Owens, Haylee Huff and Shaleen Holmes, 54.0.
3rd, Shay McGee, Tianna Golliglee, Haylee Huff and Shaleen Holmes, 4.39.
2nd, Alysha Huddleston, Megan Miles, Brianna Quinlan and Autumn Herrera, 11.11.2.