Former Payson Athlete Takes Third In National Meet

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Former Rim Country Middle School track and cross country star Kari Hardt, 18, ran her way to a third-place finish at the nationally televised USATF Junior Women Cross Country Championships.

The event was held Feb. 10 at Flatirons Golf Course in Boulder, Colo.

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Kari Hardt, 18, clocks 22:04 on the 6K USATF Junior Women Cross Country Championships, earning third place.

Over the 6K course, Hardt was timed in 22:04. The winner, Jordan Hasay, was clocked in 21:44.

Hardt, a member of a Rim Country pioneer family, was a star on RCMS teams as a seventh- and eighth-grader.

She also competed in long distance running on the club circuit.

After leaving Payson at the end of her eighth grade year, she attended schools in Springerville/Eagar and Queen Creek.

Her father, Shaun, was a record-setting runner for the Longhorn track team and her mother an award-winning point guard on the PHS basketball team.

Kari's older sister, Whitney, was a standout in basketball, track and cross country at PHS.

She graduated from Queen Creek High School in 2006 as one of the most decorated athletes in Arizona prep sports history.

She won six individual track titles, two cross country championships and led her team to three track and field state titles. She holds three state track meet records and was timed in 17:01 at the 2005 Mt. SAC Cross Country Invitational, which was the 10th-fastest time in meet history.

Hardt calls that showing "the most satisfying part of the year."

In the 2005 Foot Locker West Region race, she was sixth, before finishing 26th nationally.

In 2006, she was named the East Valley and the State Female Athlete of the Year by the Arizona Republic.

The East Valley Tribune tapped her as the best in the state in 2006.

After graduating from Queen Creek, she accepted a scholarship to Arizona State University in Tempe where she is now a freshman.

At ASU, she joined her sister Whitney on the Sun Devil track and cross country teams.

Academically, she has not declared a major.

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