Carlan Pontious, the Longhorns' finest cross country runner last season, picked up where he left off in the fall by winning both the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs at the Buckeye Invitational.
In the March 9 meet at Buckeye High School, Pontious was clocked at 4:46.8 in the 1,600 and 10:43.6 in the 3,200.
While the times were good enough to earn him gold medals, he'll need to improve them if he is going to be competitive throughout the season.
In comparison, at the Desert Classic March 4 in Queen Creek, the 1,600-meter event winning time of 4:37.00 was turned in by Logan Dyer of Northland Prep. Phoenix Christian's Thomas Ness won the 3,200 in 10:10.37.
Pontious' two first-place finishes propelled Payson to a fourth-place finish with 38 points. Glendale Cortez (81) took first, Buckeye (61) was second and Glendale (57) third.
Other first-place finishers for the Longhorns included senior Wellington Cassuto in the discus and junior Brian Schwind in the high jump. Cassuto tossed 132 feet, 2 inches and Schwind cleared 6 feet.
Silver medalists for Payson included Kyle Pugel and David Cluff. Pugel was runner-up in the high jump with a leap of 5 feet, 10 inches and Cluff took second in the 3,200 meters with an ET of 10:44.1.
In addition to Schwind's first-place showing in the high jump, he became the Longhorn's high-point athlete of the meet with third places in both the long jump (19 feet, 2 inches) and the triple jump (38 feet, 7 inches).
Cluff garnered his third medal of the day finishing third in the 1,600 meters (4:57.00). Trent Hubbard, who is being tutored by former PHS pole vault great Bo Althoff, cleared 10 feet to take third place.
Team members will not return to action until March 18 when they travel to Eagar/Springerville for the Round Valley Elk Invitational.
The Horns make their home debut March 30 on PHS track. Field events begin at 3:30 p.m.