Rhea Cosay's arrival on the Payson High School campus last summer from Alchesay High School was a welcome relief for longtime cross country coach, Chuck Hardt.
Not only did Cosay's presence give the Lady Horns another much-needed runner, Hardt knew she was a top caliber athlete.
Cosay lived up to her billing at the Arizona State Class 3A state championships held Nov. 4 at Cave Creek Golf Course.
In the field of 109 qualifiers from the 3A's four regions, Cosay led the Longhorn charge finishing 24th in 23:01.
The state champion, Charnelle Curley of Chinle, posted a time of 19:48.
Lady Horn Lana Cluff, who has been participating in cross country and track and field long distance events since she was in seventh grade, took 43rd overall in 23:37.
As valuable as Cosay and Cluff are, Payson's running future might lie in freshman Lucy Schouten who took 68th in 26:58.
Her showing was commendable, considering she was competing mostly against older, more mature and seasoned veterans.
Down the road, she could round into one of the East region's best.
Trailing in the Lady Horn state parade were Marquel Waterman (99th; 28:12) and Rachel Ward (108th; no time).
As a team, the Lady Horns were 11th with 285 points. Posting 40 points, Chinle won the state crown.
The Lady Horns' mere presence in the state tournament represented a huge accomplishment.
Early in the season, the team did not have the required five members to earn a team score, forcing Cosay and Cluff to often compete unattached.
Just prior to the Sludge to the Judge homecoming run in late September the team finally added enough runners to qualify for a team score.
"We didn't know there for a while if we'd have a team," coach Chuck Hardt said.