It's easy to see Lana Cluff is dedicated to the running sports after watching her cross a finish line fatigued, exhausted and gasping for air.
As a senior four-year cross-country letter winner with her prep career winding down, Cluff says she is now eager to test her running skills against the best from the East region.
She and her cross-country teammates, both boys and girls, will have that opportunity tomorrow, Wednesday, in Snowflake.
In Lobo land, runners from around the region will meet in a clash that could preview the regional championships to be held Oct. 26 at Whiteriver Alchesay.
Cluff enters the Snowflake showdown as the Lady Horns top runner and most seasoned veteran.
In her most recent outing, Sept. 7 in Sierra Vista, Cluff ran to a team best 16th-place finish in a 45-runner field. Over the about 5K course, she was clocked in 22:01.
Not far off her pace was teammate Lucy Schouten, who was 22nd overall in 22:33.
Also participating for PHS were Rachel Ward (38th; 29:23), Nicole Scott (39th; 29:49) and Keisha Waterman (45th; 34:14).
In the team standings, the Lady Horns tallied 143 points and were sixth of six teams.
Also in the meet, held at Buena High School, the boys team did not receive a score, because it did not field a minimum of five runners.
Of the four participating, David Knauer turned in a team best, 43rd place in 20:03. The field included 58 runners, mostly representing southern Arizona schools.
Also for Payson, Jimmy Behrens was 52nd (21:26, Forrest Wadington 53rd; (22:57).
Following the meet in Snowflake and a Sept. 22 appearance at Blue Ridge, the Horns will return home Sept. 28 for the Sludge to the Judge homecoming run on Main Street.
The race, which precedes the annual homecoming parade, begins at the Northern Gila County Sanitary District plant on Doll Baby Road and ends near the office of the Justice of the Peace at the corner of Main and Beeline.
The location of the start and finish lines prompted the name "Sludge to the Judge."
Because the entire 2.3-mile course, most of which is along Country Club and Main Street, is uphill, the race has acquired a reputation as being especially grueling.