Payson High School sophomore Carlan Pontious, a transfer student from Wisconsin, says he's now getting accustomed to running cross country in the near mile-high Rim country elevation.
Just when running at elevations was turning into an advantage for him, Pontious and his teammates found themselves in the Valley where the elevation is not a factor in long-distance running.
Competing Sept. 27 at the Fountain Hills Invitational, Pontious paced his team to a second-place showing in the 15-team field. The Horns compiled 72 points to trail only Scottsdale Christian (65) in the standings.
Pontious placed fifth among 154 competitors, touring the course in 19:25. The winning runner was clocked in 18:13.
For the second consecutive meet, the Longhorns were without the services of sophomore Carlos Lopez, whose grandfather recently died. Most of the season Lopez, has been the Horns' No. 2 runner behind Pontious.
In Lopez's absence, David Cluff took up the slack with a 13th-place finish (20:03). Hot on his heels in 15th place was Erik Monty (20:07).
Other Payson runners included Lance Chabot (18th; 20:06), Josh Lymer (21st; 20:41), Bryson Addington (29th; 21:11), Jonny Malloy (43rd; 22:01), Martin Dorris (69th; 22:54), Eric Lammers (70th; 22:55), Kyle Pugel (85th; 23:52), Steve Gilson (92nd; 24:05), Isaac Cluff (97th; 23:42) and Dillon Hedgepeth (145th; 28:43).
In the girls competition, Payson (154) finished sixth overall. Higley (78) claimed the meet title.
The Payson effort in the 84-runner field was led by veteran Alesha Huddlestun. She finished ninth in 24:14.
The individual winner was timed in 22:15.
Rapidly improving freshman Lana Cluff took 24th (26:24).
Other Lady Horns competing were Sarah Agnes (28th; 26:53), Shanna Coleman (31st; 27:32), Samantha Elliott (62nd; 31:06), Cassandra Cly (65th; 31:25) and Crystal Sprinkle (68th; 31:49).
Although school will be in fall recess Oct. 4 to 15, the cross country teams will compete Oct. 9 at the Coconino Invitational at Fort Tuthill near Flagstaff.
Hardt canceled an Oct. 6 meet at Cactus Shadows saying he wanted to use the time to condition and train.
In other late schedule changes, Hardt has withdrawn the PHS teams from the Holbrook Invitational Oct. 22 and instead will take the squads to the Queen Creek Invitational Oct. 20.