The Payson Longhorns will not be represented in the Class 4A state cross country championships Saturday at Anthem.
For the program that was a consistent state contender when Payson High School was a 3A school, the failure to qualify is a blow. It is, however, one that had been anticipated since the start of the season.
Coach Chuck Hardt, who founded the cross country team, predicted his young charges didn't have the seasoning it would take to qualify in what is the most competitive region in the state.
In the Grand Canyon region, the defending state boys championship team, the Page Sand Devils, is widely regarded as the best team in the state, including 5A schools.
As expected from the champs at the regional finals Oct. 30 in Page, the Sand Devils boys team defended their region title.
Page easily won the championship behind the running of distance star Levi Lomeland.
Page also had the No. 3, 4, 5 and 7 finishers.
To qualify, Payson needed a third-place finish; the best the Horns could do was a fifth-place showing. Top 10 finishers earned berths to state. None of the PHS boys or girls team members qualified for state.
In the girls competition, the Lady Devils ran to a narrow victory over Chinle.
The overall winner, Samantha Hatch, advanced as an individual qualifier because her Sinagua team finished fourth.
The Lady Horns were sixth in the seven team field.
Grand Canyon Region Cross Country Championship Oct. 30 at Page
Boys Team Totals
1. Page 20. 2. Flagstaff 52. 3. Chinle 91. 4. Cottonwood Mingus 104. 5. Payson 125. 6. Sinagua 152. 7. Coconino 174.
Individual Top 10
1. Levi Lomeland (Pg) 16:14. 2. Forrest Boughner (F) 16:23. 3. Derrick Williams (Pg) 16:25. 4. Nathan Lee (Pg) 16:26. 5. Donovan Tsinnijinnie (Pg) 16:36. 6. Jeff Cosper (F) 16:39. 7. Antonio Smith (Pg) 16:50. 8. Jason Rande (S) 16:58. 9. Shane Logan (M) 17:04. 10. Tyrin Bert (Ch) 17:12.
Girls Team Totals
1. Page 43. 2. Chinle 50. 3. Flagstaff 51. 4. Sinagua 122. 5. Cottonwood Mingus 126. 6. Payson 147. 7. Coconino 201.
Individual Top 10
1. Samantha Hatch (S) 19:41. 2. Katrina Lee (Pg) 19:46. 3. Charity Curley (Pg) 20:02. 4. Cody Terrell (Ch) 20:10. 5. Michelle Howe (F) 20:16. 6. Kate Aitchison (F) 20:26. 7. Sarah Goldberg (F) 20:49. 8. Adrianne Madman (Pg) 20:58. 9. Alicia Watson (Ch) 21:04. 10. Courtney Norberto (Ch) 21:06.
Top three teams in each division qualify for state meet. Also made state meet as outside qualifiers: Boys: Jason Rande and Shane Logan. Girls: Hatch.
Coach of the Year: Theo Martin, Page.
Runners of the Year
Boys: Levi Lomeland, Page.
Girls: Samantha Hatch, Sinagua.