By finishing 47th overall in a field of 119 of the finest long distance runners in Arizona, PHS junior Jacquelyn Oesterblad led the Lady Longhorn cross country team to a ninth-place state team finish.
The Lady Horns wrapped up the 3A state run with 272 points to trail champion Chinle (34), runner-up Sedona Red Rock and bronze medalist Tuba City (96).
Payson entered the Arizona 3A finals held Nov. 7 at Cave Creek as the 2009 East champions but finished behind two of the teams, Blue Ridge and Show Low, the Lady Horns whipped at the regional show down. Blue Ridge was sixth overall with 212 points and Show Low was eighth, amassing 245 points.
Individually, Oesterblad toured the 5K course in 23:30.11.
Chinle’s Rolanda Jumbo, only a sophomore, won her second consecutive state title in a blistering 18:40.98, which turned out to be her best 5,000-meter time of the season.
Around the state, the young Wildcat star is being touted as a highly promising runner with the potential to someday compete on the NCAA Division 1 level if she chooses.
Chinle teammate Charnelle Curley, the 2006 state champion, was second in 19:55.15.
For Payson, freshman Ashley Spears took second among the Lady Horn contingent and 50th overall in 23:47.98.
Lucy Schouten, a senior was 54th in 24:02.30.
Trailing Payson’s top trio in the final standings were Madi Flake (57th; 7:48.2), Lauren Nossek (64th; 24:52.58), Iris Molina (72nd; 25:27; 65) and Elizabeth Luna (77th; 26:00.79).
The stellar showings of first-year runners Spear and Flake bode well for the future of the Lady Longhorn cross country program, coaches said.
First-year coach Jonathan Ball has set a goal of rebuilding the program to the lofty heights it once enjoyed and the two freshmen could be the foundation he’s searching for to turn the team into state contenders.