Former Payson High School three-sport star Carlos Lopez continues to build on his reputation as one of the Rim Country’s finest runners.
The 20-year-old’s most recent accomplishment was winning the town-sponsored Turkey Trot 5K held Nov. 15 at Green Valley Park. Competing in sunny, but crisp, 55-degree temperatures, Lopez toured the 3.1-mile course in 16:51, which was almost three minutes faster than runner-up Jonathan Ball (19:17).
In 2007, Payson High School cross-country runner David Knauer won the Turkey Trot in 19:54.
Last summer, Lopez competed in the Payson sprint triathlon, also sponsored by the town parks and recreation department, and finished ninth overall.
After graduating from Payson High in 2007, Lopez enrolled at Scottsdale Community College where he is now a sophomore member of the Fighting Artichokes’ cross-country and indoor and outdoor track and field teams. He holds the school’s 1,500-meter record of 4:19.08 and is the No. 1 runner on the cross-country team.
As a freshman, he led Scottsdale to a seventh-place finish in the NJCAA Region 1 cross-country championships.
In high school, Lopez was on the Longhorn track and field team that won the 2006 state championship and a standout member of the state runner-up basketball team.
In the Turkey Trot, 66 runners and walkers competed, including 80-year-old Ray Kinsman and 70-year-old Caroline Beeler. Both won their age division championships.
Among the women runners, 19-year-old Sabrina Nelson was first in 22:20.
The youngest runner, 12-year-old Julie Gibson, also won her age-group title.
In the 40-49 age division, 40-year-old mother of two Carolyn Fruth took home the gold in 22:51 and immediately proceeded to sprint home, a distance of another three miles.
Long distances, however, are nothing new to Fruth who competes regularly in triathlons.
In the Turkey Trot, she was 11th overall and fourth among the women runners.
Entered in the Turkey Trot from the Payson High School boys cross-country team were Knauer, who was third, and fourth-place finisher Dakoda Wholly.
Knauer was timed in 19:58 and Wholly in 20:49.
Lucy Schouten represented the Lady Longhorn cross-country squad finishing ninth overall in 22:32.
Other top-10 finishers were Jerry Baker, fifth, 21:29; Jim Hershberger, sixth, 22:09; John Becker, seventh, 22:12; and Vanessa Prileson, 10th, 22:41.
Town of Payson Recreation Coordinator Deb Rose said about the Turkey Trot, “We are very pleased with the turnout this year.
“This is a fun race to put on because we have runners who (compete) in this one year after year.”
She also thanked the volunteers who assisted in staging the event including police volunteers for “helping keep the runners safe.”