Girls Cross Country Team, Individual Runners Aim For State Titles


The Lady Longhorn cross country team finished second at the East regional meet and will take a full six-member squad to state. The boys cross country squad did not qualify as a team, but three individual runners did earn state berths.

The Lady Longhorn cross country team finished second at the East regional meet and will take a full six-member squad to state. The boys cross country squad did not qualify as a team, but three individual runners did earn state berths. |

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Football, volleyball and soccer won’t be the only teams representing Payson High School in state tournaments.

The girls cross country team also earned a berth into the Class 3A postseason. The Longhorn boys did not qualify as a team with a top four finish at the East regional championships, but three individuals did earn state berths.

They include Dakoda Wholly, Joe Garcia and David Knauer. All qualified because of their top-15 finishes in the East finals held Oct. 31 at Rumsey Park.

In the 33-runner field, Wholly was 10th, Garcia 13th and Knauer 14th.

The Lady Horns finished second at the East meet and will take a full six-member squad to state.

The team includes Jacquelyn Oesterblad, Lucy Schouten, Elizabeth Luna, Adriana Barnes, Lauren Nossek and Meha Sharma.

Among those, Oesterblad had the best regional showing, finishing fourth overall in 23:44.94.

Schouten was sixth in 24:04.56.

Oesterblad and Schouten give the Lady Horns their best chances for points in the prestigious showdown that will draw top-notch athletes from

around the state and off the Northern Arizona Navajo and Hopi reservations, where long-distance running is a way of life.

Among the North qualifiers the Lady Horns will face is Chinle’s fabulous freshman Rolando Jumbo who last week won the region championship. She was clocked over the 5K course in 20:54.82.

Although it’s difficult to compare times over different courses, East cross country champion Jessica Rydberg of Blue Ridge won the region 5K in 21:02.66.

The West Region girls championship was taken by Sedona Red Rock junior Yara Deninnger.  Over a 2.9-mile course, she was timed in 21:48.

Also from the West, Wickenburg sophomore Vivian Ruiz has shown well this season, setting a 5K home course record of 21:24.

She was 12 seconds behind Deninnger in the West championships.

In the South Region, where the championships were held on a 5,000-meter course, Fountain Hills senior Ciera Brecto easily won the crown in 20:38. Fountains Hills also took the top four finishes in the regional championships. But in the South, only three schools field cross country teams.

Longhorn boys

Among the fastest foes the Longhorn boys qualifiers must face is Tuba City’s Ryan Yazzie. He advances to state as the North titleholder in 18:01.99.

East champion Cody Wells of Snowflake breezed to victory in 18:12.38. The West champion is Larry Hermance of Chino Valley and Santino Smith is the South titleholder.

Girls team favorites at state include Sedona Red Rock, Chinle, Blue Ridge and Fountain Hills.

Boys favorites include Fountain Hills, Sedona Red Rock, Blue Ridge and Tuba City.

The 3A girls championships begin at 11:05 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 8 at Cave Creek Golf Course in Phoenix.

The boys run kicks off at 9:50 a.m. also on Saturday at Cave Creek Golf Course.

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