A trio of Payson High School seniors have run their last race in Longhorn cross country uniforms.
Carlos Lopez, Carlan Pontious and Bryson Addington -- the nucleus of the PHS team all season long -- turned in their final performance Nov. 4 at the 3A state finals held at Cave Creek Golf Course.
Lopez, who is known more for his basketball prowess than long distance running, led the Longhorn charge, running to 23rd place in 17:27. The individual state champion, Christopher Holve of Tuba City, was clocked in at 16:23.
Lopez's split times -- 5:21.10 for the first mile and 11:05.5 for the second -- were fairly consistent.
Pontious -- the Horns number one runner all season long -- struggled in the event, finishing 33rd in 19:42. Coach Chuck Hardt said he could tell while Pontious was on the course that he was laboring and not his usually hard-charging self.
Pontious entered the state showdown as the East region champion and its Most Valuable Runner.
In addition to Pontious winning the East championship this past season, he took first in the Sludge to the Judge homecoming run, was second at the prestigious Winslow Invitational and fifth at the Sue Fletcher Invitational in Sierra Vista.
Trailing Lopez and Pontious was Addington in 76th place with a time of 19:42.
Also representing PHS were Max Siverson (78th; 19:46), Elden Siverson (97th; 20:33), Isaac Cluff (98th; 20:35) and Noah Sweet (120th; 24:21).
A field of 121 qualifiers from the four regions in the 3A conference participated in the meet.
The efforts of the Payson runners led the Longhorns to a state 10th place finish with 272 points.
As expected, the Northern Arizona reservation schools -- armed with a slew of talented Hopi and Navajo athletes -- dominated the competition.
Hopi (51) was first, Chinle (62) second, Ganado (65) third and Tuba City (115) fourth. All four schools represent the 3A North region where running is a way of life.
With the season at an end, Lopez, Pontious and Addington might have one last opportunity to participate in a cross country run as individuals.
That chance could come in the form of an invitation to the Arizona Coaches Association postseason all-star clash.
ACA members will select the all-star runners later this month.