The Longhorn cross country team's appearance in the prestigious Peaks Invitational wrapped up with the proverbial "good news, bad news" scenario.
First, the good news. In the field of 35 of Arizona's best cross country teams, Payson finished seventh.
Now, the bad news. Among the six teams that outperformed the Longhorns were four that call the 4A Grand Canyon region home -- Page, Flagstaff,Chinle and Coconino.
The results of the Sept. 6 Peaks meet in Flagstaff mean the Longhorns have an uphill battle awaiting them in the team's pursuit of the Grand Canyon region title and a berth in the Class 4A state championships Nov. 8.
In finishing seventh, the Horns tallied 314 points and a total time of 1:23:27.80 for their six runners. The Payson entrants averaged 18:29.56 over the 5K Buffalo Park course.
Grand Canyon teams finishing in front of the Horns were Page (second; 99 points), Chinle (fourth; 177), Flagstaff (fifth; 213) and Coconino (sixth; 276).
Tallying a meet-low 71 points, Catalina Foothills captured the Peaks title. The Foothills runners averaged 19:10.86 over the course.
The Longhorns best showing was turned in by senior Tanner Morgan who finished ninth overall in 17.04.2. His average mile time was 5:29.7.
The meet champion, Justin Langdon of Mountain Ridge, toured the course in 16:76.6 and averaged 5:14.7 per mile. A field of 238 prep runners competed.
Payson's Brian Langeliers ran to a 41st-place showing in 17:54.4. Teammate Dustin Rodgers was 43rd in 18:06.0.
Trailing Payson's top three were Joe Behrens (84th; 18:50.09), David Cluff (152nd; 20:32.3) and Jeff Little (205th; 22:56.9).
The Horns return to action Sept. 20 at the Four Corners Invitational also to be contested at Flagstaff Buffalo Park. Many of the same teams that participated at Peaks will be in attendance at the Four Corners showdown. Because the Horns have almost two weeks of practice time to condition and prepare between the Peaks and Four Corners, coach Chuck Hardt is anticipating improved performances.