It took a Herculean, record-breaking effort from Carlos Lopez to edge Longhorn cross country teammate Carlan Pontious for the Sludge to the Judge homecoming race championship.
After more than two miles of battling one another east on Main Street, Lopez nipped Pontious at the finish line by just one second. Lopez was clocked in 12:33 and Pontious in 12:34.
The winning time easily broke the old school record of 13:01.
The battle between the two was so close that several onlookers at the finish line did not know which runner had won until told by finish judges.
Rendering the battle even more intriguing is that Pontious approached the finish line, located on the north side of the street, running on the south side.
During the last few strides, Pontious had to cross sides of the Main, which cost him precious seconds.
It was the same tactical error he made last year when he won the Sludge to the Judge run.
Payson swept the top three individual slots when David Cluff -- who had been running along with Lopez and Pontious in the early parts of the race -- finished third in 12:38.
Also for Payson, Bryson Addington was ninth (14:25) and Robert Walker 11th (14:42).
The showing of the top five earned the Longhorns the Sludge to the Judge championship trophy. The Horns posted a meet low 23 points to edge past Holbrook (42), Tucson Desert Vista (68) and Aqua Fria (106).
Also representing the Longhorns in the race were Daniel McGee (13th; 14:46), Max Sieverson (17th; 15:11), Jonny Malloy (19th; 15:32), Levi Neal (20th; 15:47), Trevor Day (24th; 16:09), Ollie Lewinson (17:05), Jeff Day (18:05), Hunter Hardt (18:16), Brain Schwind (18:17) and Matt Jones (19:35).
In an unusual race format, the boys and girls ran together in the race that began at the Northern Gila County Sewage Plant and ended at the county offices on Main.
For the Lady Longhorns, Alesha Huddlestun was the team's top runner and fifth overall among the girls, in 17:03.
The girls' winner, Reanna Chee of Holbrook was timed in 16:17.
Lady Horn Lana Cluff was sixth (17:19) and Sara Agnes 11th (18:42).
Payson's fourth entry, Marquel Waterman ran to a 15th place (19:41) showing.
There were 73 boys and girls in the event.
The cross country teams will now take a short fall break before returning to action Oct. 8 at Sandra Day O'Connor High School.