For the first time in the history of Payson High School cross country, the team will have a head coach other than Chuck Hardt.
The former coach, who retired at the conclusion of the last school year, has turned the program reins over to Ian Harvey, who will also teach math at Payson High.
Harvey comes to Payson from Show Low, where he taught and coached for two years. Harvey also attended high school in Show Low and is a graduate of Arizona State University.
During his tenure at SLHS, Harvey coached cross country, track and field and freshmen girls basketball.
Chuck Yale who is a retired coach and athletic director from New York joins him on the cross-country staff. Yale was an assistant to Hardt in both cross-country and track and field. He also volunteer-tutors PHS student athletes.
Also on the cross-country staff is first year English teacher Journee Durant.
In Harvey taking over the program, the first year Longhorn coach is looking forward to a successful year in which he can share his love of long-distance running.
"Running is my passion, it's something I've always done," he said.
Harvey's attraction to cross-country is due partly to the top quality student athletes the sport traditionally attracts.
"Cross-country runners are some of the best people around, they have an uncommon dedication to themselves, their schools and their friends," he said. "They are also usually the top students in the classroom."
Preseason practices for the team began Aug. 8, the first day of school.
Harvey said he realized he might have to comb the student body in search of team members.
Last season, the Lady Longhorns opened the season with only three runners on the roster and spent most of the early campaign ineligible for a team score, because the Lady Horns couldn't field the minimum five athletes required.
It was Sept. 30, 2006 at an Estrella Foothills meet before the Lady Horns picked up the required number of runners to be eligible for a team score.
For the boys team, Harvey will be without the services of the team's top trio of the past three seasons.
Carlan Pontious, Carlos Lopez and Bryson Addington graduated last spring with the Class of 2007.
The three led PHS in 2006 to a state 10th-place finish.
The team will open the season Aug. 28 at Hopi and make its home debut Sept. 5 in a run to be held at the Payson Golf Course.