The Lady Longhorn cross country team stamped itself a legitimate contender for the East Region championship with a second-place finish at the Alchesay Invitational.
In the seven-team meet held Oct. 9 at the Whiteriver Fairgrounds, the Lady Horns posted 71 points to take the silver medal behind Hopi, which finished with 30 points.
Valley Sanders (77) was a close third and host Alchesay (103) took fourth.
Individually, three team members earned medals for top-15 finishes. Jacquelyn Oesterblad led the PHS parade taking ninth in 24:31. Teammate Lucy Schouten was hot on her heels taking 10th in 24:49.
Freshman Ashley Spear turned in a clocking of 25-flat to medal 13th.
Also representing Payson were Madi Flake (22nd; 26:17), Lauren Nossek (25th; 26:52), Emily Hill (29th; 27:19) and Elizabeth Luna (46th; 30:35).
Katie Schouten competed in the open division and finished ninth in 28:41.
The boys cross country team finished ninth at Alchesay with 188 points.
Representing the Longhorns were Forrest Wadington (23rd; 20:10), Michael Scott (26th; 20:39), Tanner Hodges (43rd; 22:09), Jamie Wadington (44th; 22:23) and Zeke Brooks (52nd; 24:10).
East finals at Whiteriver Fairgrounds
The Alchesay Invitational gave the Horns a preview of the site where the East championships will be held Oct. 30. That meet will serve as a qualifier for the state finals set for Saturday, Nov. 7 in Cave Creek.
Both the PHS squads competed Oct. 3 at the Queen Creek Twilight Festival, which drew 23 girls and 32 boys teams from around the state.
The meet featured a freshman division, which gave a trio of Lady Longhorn rookies the opportunity to compete against foes of their own age and experience.
Most of the season, the frosh have been entered in varsity competition, which means they are usually facing opponents more mature and seasoned.
Ashley Spear showed why coaches Johnathan Ball and Chuck Yale are so high on her by running to an eighth-place finish in 21:45.
Flake was 12th in 22:03. Katie Schouten turned in a clocking of 24:24 to take 30th in the 70-runner field.
In the girls varsity meet, 155 runners vied for honors. Oesterblad, who was 26th in 20:45, turned in Payson’s best effort.
Trailing her were Luna (68th; 22:14), Molina (71st; 22:20), Lauren Nossek (100th; 23:23) and Emily Hill (102nd; 23:37).
For the varsity boys event, a whopping 220 runners — the largest field Payson has been in this season — competed.
Scott ran to a 129th-place finish in 18:29. Hodges wasn’t far behind the Payson leader taking 133rd in 18:34.
Also representing Payson were Jamie Wadington (161st; 19:24), Sharma (163rd; 19:28), Brooks (183rd; 20:41) and Paul Utz (184th; 20:44).
On Oct. 17, both PHS teams will travel, for the first time in the history of the program, to Albuquerque, N.M., to compete in the Rio Rancho Invitational.