Fueled by a strategy PHS cross country team founder Chuck Hardt called “pack running” the Lady Longhorns wrapped up the regular season with an East Region second-place finish.
With 49 points, the Lady Horns trailed only powerful Blue Ridge in the final standings.
While the Yellow Jacket runners finished 1-2-3 individually, Payson had five runners in the top 14.
Since the founding of the cross country program over a decade ago, Hardt has preached the value of having all six team members finish as close to the leaders as possible.
He said, that type of showing was more advantageous to the team effort than having only one or two individuals finish in the top-five.
Hardt was on hand at the finals, which were held Oct. 31 over a 5K course at Rumsey Park, cheering the Lady Horns in their efforts.
Individually, Jacquelyn Oesterblad led the PHS charge running to a fourth-place finish in 23:44.94.
Lucy Schouten was sixth in 24:04.56.
Also, Elizabeth Luna took 12th (26.27.86), Ariana Barnes 13th (26:30.27) and Lauren Nossek 14th (26:32.87).
Throughout the race, the trio ran abreast of one another.
Also competing for Payson were Meha Sharma (27th, 32:34.17) and Amanda Lloyd (29th; 35:46.34).
The winner of the event, Jessica Rydberg, was clocked in 21:02.66.
Also for Blue Ridge, Emerald Raney was second (21:46.90) and Autumn Gibson third (23:42.42).
With the East Region second-place showing, the Lady Horns qualified for the 3A state tournament. It will be contested at 11:05 a.m. Nov. 8 at Cave Creek Golf Course in Phoenix.
Also representing the East will be region third-place finisher Alchesay and fourth place Show Low.