Lana Cluff saved the finest performance of her four-year career for her senior finale.
Competing in the Arizona State Class 3A State Championships held Nov. 3 at Cave Creek Golf Course near Phoenix, Cluff ran to a ninth-place finish in the 98-runner field. She was clocked over the 3.1 mile, or 5K course, in 22:08.5, which eclipsed the 22:15 ET she recorded a week earlier at the East Region championships, held in Whiteriver.
Cluff's top-20 finish also earned her the goal of most every high school cross-country runner -- a state medal.Her effort at state was a marked improvement over last season, when she ran her way to a 43rd place showing in 23:37. The 2006 meet was also held at Cave Creek Golf Course.
First-place honors in the 2007 gold-medal run were garnered by Jessica Ryberg of Blue Ridge, who was timed in 20 minutes flat. In winning, Ryberg took an early lead and held it throughout the race.
Teammate Emerald Raney finished second in 20:04.95. The champion's sister, Kristen Ryberg was ninth (21:14), to give the Yellow Jackets three runners in the top 10. Those performances, however, weren't enough to earn BR the state title. That honor went to pre-meet favorite and North region champion, Chinle.
The Wildcat's runners finished third, fifth, seventh, 13th and 22nd. Blue Ridge was a close second.
Payson was ninth in the 13-team field.
Individual for the Lady Longhorns, Lucy Schouten ran to a 38th place showing in 23:54.30. Trailing were Esther Linkey (49th; 27:45), Jacquelyn Oesterblad (68th; 28:36), Rachel Ward (70th; 29:26) and Nicole Scott (71st; 29:56).
Tori Belohlawek also competed and was clocked in 34:11.
The Longhorn boy's team was not represented at state. From the East region, Snowflake's Cody Wells lost to champion Lance Williams of Tuba City by one second.
The East region champion Alchesay Falcons finished fifth.
In 2006, the Longhorns were 10th overall and had three runners in the top 76. That trio and most other runners graduated last spring, leaving the talent cup board bare when Ian Harvey took over as head coach last summer.