Brianna Quinlan turned out to be the long awaited fifth runner the Lady Longhorn cross country team needed to be eligible for a team score.
After struggling most of the season with three or four runners and unable to compete for a meet title because prep rules require five team members, the Lady Longhorns secured the services of Quinlan, daughter of former PHS basketball coach Jim Quinlan.
With the new runner on board, the Lady Horns ran their way to a fourth place finish Oct. 28 in the East regional meet. The top four finish will propel Payson into the state championships Nov. 5 at Cave Creek Golf Course.
Payson posted 102 points in the East meet, held in Lakeside, to trail Blue Ridge (52), Alchesay (41) and region champion Holbrook (37).
Snowflake was fifth, with 131 points, and will not advance to state.
For the Lady Horns, Alesha Huddlestun was top gun, running to 11th place in 22:27. East champion Reanna Chee of Holbrook was clocked in 20:17.
Also representing Payson at regionals were Lana Cluff (17th; 23:22), Sarah Agnes (23rd; 25:03) and Marquel Waterman (25th; 25:22). Quinlan took 26th place, with a time of 25:28.