Phs Cross Country Runners Top All At Turkey Trot 5k

Longhorn sophomore David Knauer and senior Lana Cluff come home first

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A pair of Payson High School cross-country team members led the charge at the 13th annual Turkey Trot 5K Walk/Run.

In the event, held Nov. 17 at Green Valley Park under clear, cool Rim Country skies, PHS sophomore David Knauer took first overall in 19:47.9.

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Payson High School sophomore David Knauer gasps for air after crossing the Turkey Trot 5K finish line in first place. Knauer was timed in 19:47.9.

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The 64 runners who participated in the town-sponsored Turkey Trot 5K run position themselves for a quick start.

Among the women entrants, senior Lana Cluff was first in 21:50.

For Knauer, the ace runner on the Longhorn cross-country team this fall, the race result was a milestone.

"It's my best 5K time so far," he said. "I took the lead early and just tried to stay ahead."

Knauer called the course much easier than the one at the Rim Country Challenge held near Rumsey Park.

"Not as many hills," he said.

In that event, held Oct. 13, Knauer finished second overall.

For Cluff, her division-winning clocking was about 40 seconds off her PR but finishing first among the women runners was an accomplishment.

"There were some good runners here that I had to beat," she said.

Her run strategy centered on getting off to a quick start and staying with the early leaders.

"I ran the first part at about a 200-meter pace," she said. "I saw David had and tried to stay right behind him."

Cluff's Turkey Trot victory was scored on the heels of her winning her first state cross-country medal.

"That was exciting for me," she said.

She garnered it while competing Nov. 3 in the Arizona State Class 3A State Championships held at Cave Creek Golf Course near Phoenix. Cluff ran to a ninth-place finish in the 98-runner field. She was clocked over the 5K course in 22:08.5, which eclipsed the PR of 22:15 she recorded a week earlier at the East Region championships, held in Whiteriver.

Her effort at state was a marked improvement over her junior 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.

With the prep cross country season at an end, Cluff's running exploits will be put on hold until next spring when she will turn out for the Lady Longhorn track and field team.

Following her graduation next spring, she would like to attend Northern Arizona University.

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