Veteran cross country coach Chuck Hardt must be experiencing a sense of deja vu.
His apparition dates to when he first founded the cross country program 10 years ago. Then, Hardt -- also a physical education teacher at Payson High School -- was forced to recruit runners from his classes when only a handful of athletes turned out for the Lady Horns' first cross country team.
During Aug. 8 opening day practices, Hardt again experienced an almost identical problem -- only three girls tried out for the Lady Longhorns.
This time around, Hardt called upon his roster of 20 boys to scour the campus and recruit more girl runners.
Although those efforts have not yielded much success, Hardt and assistant Chuck Yale, are hoping more girls turn out before a season-opening meet Sept. 7 at Payson Golf Course.
The three runners now on the team --arah Agnes, Lana Cluff and Alesha Huddlestun --re experienced cross country runners who competed last year in several large, prestigious meets.
At the Four Corners Invitational in Flagstaff, the trio was pitted against the finest runners in Arizona, including those from the always powerful reservation schools. Huddlestun ran to a 27th place, Cluff was 61st and Agnes 73rd.
At the Sandra Day O'Connor Invitational, Huddlestun finished 22nd, Cluff was 28th and Agnes 63rd.
All season long, it was the trio of Huddlestun, Cluff and Agnes who buoyed the Lady Horn efforts.
At the Aug. 13 Monsoon 5K run, Cluff represented the Lady Horns well, running to 18th place in 24:37. Among the female runners, she was third overall. Huddlestun and Agnes did not run.
With the onset of the season just over the horizon, the three runners continue to prepare for what is a demanding schedule. On the Longhorn slate this fall is a return visit, Sept. 17, to the Four-Corners Invitational and a jaunt Sept. 24 to the Blue Ridge Yellow Jacket Invitational.
After hosting the Sludge to the Judge Sept. 30, the Lady Horns compete Oct. 8 in the Sandra Day O'Connor Invitational and Oct. 19 at Queen Creek.