Competing with a Payson cross country roster that was missing three of its best runners, the state 20th-ranked Longhorns boys finished fourth at the five-team Notre Dame Prep Invitational Oct. 8 at El Dorado Park in Scottsdale.
PHS seniors Joe Behrens, Dustin Rodgers and Brian Langeliers were absent from the meet. All season, the three have been among the Longhorns top-five runners.
According to PHS coach Chuck Hardt, Behrens and Langeliers did not compete due to illness. Rodgers opted out of the meet to save himself for a meet in Flagstaff three days later, Hardt said.
Without the three, Payson racked up 87 points to finish behind Cactus Shadows (27), Greenway (54) and Washington (71). Host Notre Dame was fifth with 190 points.
Had Behrens, Rodgers and Langeliers been available, Hardt said, Payson would probably have finished second behind Cactus Shadows, a Class 4A top-15 ranked team.
Payson's best effort was turned in by Tanner Morgan who has been the Horns No. 1 runner most of the season. Touring the course in 16:46, Morgan was third in the 63-runner field. The winning time was 16:14.
Rapidly improving freshman Carlos Lopez took 15th in 18:32.
At the Sludge to the Judge Invitational held Oct. 3 in Payson, Lopez's surprising fourth-place finish put fans on notice that he was on the verge of becoming one of the team's most promising young runners.
Also representing PHS in the Notre Dame meet were Lance Chabot (16th:18:35), Tommy Ashby (26th; 19:21), Jeff Little (27th; 19:27), David Cluff (28th; 19:34), Bryson Addington (31st; 20:02), Zach Belcher (32nd; 20:05), Jonny Malloy (36th; 20:19), Hunter Hardt (52nd; 22:21), Brendan Van Zile (54th; 22:51), Greg Lords (56th; 22:52) and Cade Connolly (57th; 22:53).
The Longhorns return to action tomorrow (Wednesday) at the Snowflake Invitational.