Much like a finely tuned racecar accelerates down a speedway, 18-year-old David Cluff kicked into high gear about one-mile into the Turkey Trot 5K to win the event going away.
"I didn't start at the front but decided to go out after about six or seven minutes," he said. "Then I just ran for the finish."
His time of 18:02 was well off his winning clocking last year of 17:18.
That, however, might be attributed to the fact there were no competitors to push him.
Cluff's Longhorn cross country teammates for the past two seasons, Carlan Pontious and Carlos Lopez, did not participate.
Lopez was attending a PHS basketball practice during the morning of the Nov. 19 race, but the whereabouts of Pontious was unknown.
"He might have had to work," Cluff said.
At last year's highly competitive Turkey Trot, Cluff was pushed all along the course by Tanner Morgan (17:28), Pontious (17:33) and Lopez (17:47).
In the 75-runner field this year, Rim Country Middle School seventh-grader Ashton Wolfe took second overall and first among the female entrants in 21:23.
Wolfe is no stranger to long-distance running, having finished third in her age group Jan. 9 at P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona 1/2 Marathon in Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe.
As a sixth-grader at RCMS, she was a standout member of the Maverick cross country team who finished 35th among more than 300 competitors at the Arizona State Junior High/Middle School Championships.
At the Hershey Track and Field Meet April 9 at Payson High School, Wolfe was among the youngsters who braved the wind and cold to showcase their skills.
Running alone in the 1600 meters, wearing her Giants Little League baseball uniform -- tryouts were that morning -- Wolfe legged her away around the PHS track in 6:37.
Veteran PHS track coach Chuck Hardt was among those awed by her speed.
"She's about on track for what Whitney was doing at her age," he said, referring to Whitney Hardt, now a member of the Arizona State University track team, who set numerous state records as a student at PHS, Round Valley and Queen Creek High Schools.
For Cluff, running in the Turkey Trot was a step toward getting into good physical shape for his pursuit of state wrestling honors.
Last year as a junior, Cluff won the 145-pound 4A Grand Canyon region weight class championship and advanced to the state finals, where he lost a heartbreaking 10-9 decision to Tucson Sunnyside's Joey Crandall.