Carlan Pontious is convinced he won't commit the same tactical error he did in the past two Sludge to the Judge homecoming cross country races.
"I now know better. I'm going to run on the north side (of Main Street)," he said about today, Friday's, Sludge to the Judge.
Pontious' mistake of running on the south side of Main -- when the finish line is on the north side -- cost him the 2005 run championship. Teammate Carlos Lopez edged him at the finish partly because Pontious had to adjust his running course during the last 100 meters and cross from the south side of Main to the north.
"He ran about an extra 20 yards," assistant coach Chuck Yale said at the conclusion of last year's race.
Lopez was timed in 12:33 and Pontious in 12:34.
In 2004, Pontious made the same mistake of running on the wrong side of the street.
His time, 13.01, although good enough for the win by more than 10 seconds, is misleading, because Pontious did not see the finish line until the last few meters of the race.
With Yale, then a finish judge, screaming at him to shift sides of the street, Pontious finally heard the urgings and made a late change that had him careening over the finish line and almost stumbling.
"I was so focused, I never saw the finish until late," he said.
In the practice week leading up to today's Sludge to the Judge run, Pontious has received plenty of good-natured ribbing from his teammates and coaches.
"Yes, they let me know about it," he said.
Today's run, for both boys and girls, begins at 1:45 p.m. near the Gila County Sanitary Plant. The course runs east on Country Club and onto Main Street before ending near the Gila County offices where Justice of the Peace Dorothy Little will present trophies to both the boys and girls champions.
Participating along with Payson will be Holbrook, Tucson Mountain View and Linden Christian.
The Sawmill Mile, also on Main Street, will precede the high school run at 1:15 p.m. Rim Country Middle School will host the meet.
Immediately after the Sludge to the Judge, the homecoming parade will begin at Green Valley Park and proceed east on Main.
The PHS cross country teams tuned up for the homecoming run at the prestigious Four Corners Invitational Sept. 16 at Buffalo Park in Flagstaff.
In the 24-team field, the Longhorns managed a 17th place finish with a total time of 1:37:37.70.
Flagstaff won the event in 1:24:59.20.
A powerful Mingus team, that easily won a season-opening meet in Payson, was runner-up less than a second behind Flagstaff.
Individually, Pontious turned in the Longhorns' best showing, finishing 10th in 16:53.
The event champion, Victory Zazueta of Desert View, was clocked in 15:55.2.
Also for Payson, Lopez was 40th in 17:53 and Max Siverson 102nd in 19:51.
Isaac Cluff (129th; 21:01) and Elden Siverson (21:58) also participated in the 156-runner field.
In junior varsity action, David Knauer (55th; 22; 37), Jesus Hipolito (63rd; 23:12), Noah Sweet (69th; 28) and Matt Jones (99th; 27:51) represented PHS; 106 runners entered the jayvee competition.
The Lady Horns
Because the girls cross country does not have the minimum of five runners on the roster, the team has not been eligible for a team score this season.
However, coach Chuck Hardt anticipates he will have six girl runners for the Sludge to the Judge.
Just recently, Rachel Ward and Esther Linkey have turned out for the team.
"Esther has been running seven miles a day, four to five days a week," Hardt said. "Running is a lifestyle and it shows."
Hardt predicts Rachel Ward, a member of the Pikes swim team in the summer months, will also soon contribute to the team effort.
"She feels good about herself for what she is doing," he said.
At the Four Corners run, two girls participated in the junior varsity event and two in the varsity.
Alchesay-transfer Rhea Cosay led the varsity charge finishing 22nd in 22:15.
Lana Cluff turned in a time of 23:11 to finish 48th.
Jillian Klassen of Scottsdale Christian won in 19:08.
In the junior varsity competition, freshman Lucy Schouten was time in 23:05 and was 18th. Marquel Waterman was 63rd in 26:33.
Flagstaff's Andrea Klimowski topped the 109-runner field in 21:25.
-- To reach Max Foster call 474-5251 ext. 114 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sludge to the Judge race
When: 1:45 p.m. today, Friday
Where: Begins at Gila County Sanitary Plant, ends near Justice of the Peace Dorothy Little's office