SPORTS – “A Royal Run for the Bears”

ROY – September 28, 2020

The Bear River High School cross-country teams were able to attend one of the few invitationals being held this year as they returned to one of their favorite meets at Roy High School on Saturday, Sept. 26 – the Royal Run.

“Several years ago, we tried this meet out. It was a little different but the kids ran fast and they loved it. With the Bob Firman Invitational (cross-country meet) being cancelled, we had the chance to come back. We are so glad we did. We had a great day,” said coach Dan Line with the Bear River High cross-country team.

That great day began with the boys’ varsity. Bear River High senior Peter Nielsen continued to shine for the Bears placing 8th in a loaded field with a PR of 15:30 minutes.

“Pretty sure his time was one of the top 10 times ever run at Bear River. Peter is feeling good. He loves to work hard and compete,” said Line.

His fellow senior teammate Daniel Curtis also had a huge PR.

“I think both of them knocked about 45 seconds off their best cross-country time. Daniel is really being smart about his running. We have no doubts his consistency will pay off with something big,” Line added.

Curtis' time (15:43) put him on the medal podium as well with an excellent 11th place finish.

Gabe Wilson was within striking distance of the 16-minute barrier too, coming in at 16:19, as the #3 Bear River runner to cross the finish line.

“Gabe is doing great but he still hasn't put down his best race. When he does, watch out,” said Line.

Juniors Phillip Gallegos (16:32) and Matt Spotten (16:47) gave the Bears strong enough finishes to pull the varsity boys into 5th place in the team standings.

“We were hoping to do good. Fifth place, oh yeah! As coaches we are more than pleased, we are really stoked for this group,” Line said.

Senior Keyjun Hale had a much better day and a sub 17-minute time of 16:52.

“Going to need Keyjun when the big races happen,” added Line.

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The girls’ squad from Bear River High welcomed back senior Kenya Tomlinson. After battling injuries her junior year, Tomlinson decided to focus on getting healthy and her senior season of soccer. Just recently she decided to help again with the girls’ cross-country team for the Bears.

“We have just been injured all season on the girls’ side, especially with the varsity. There are plenty of great things happening, but ugh, the injury bug has hit us. We thought about two weeks ago to ask Kenya if she wanted to give it another go her senior year. We hesitated, but then asked. She said yes and at the end of the race today she was happy, her family was happy and the girls on the team and the coaches were too. I am so pleased to see her out there running again,” said Bear River High School’s girls’ cross-country coach Tyrell Neal.

Tomlinson gave the Bears that important #5 runner for team scoring. With varsity runners Katie Wynn and Liz Phillips still on the mend, having Tomlinson is a big help, coaches added. Tomlinson’s first race of the season came in with a time of 21:42.

As usual, senior Madison White led the Lady Bears in the first spot.

“Madi is going to the front of every race - period. She wants to be there - and she is ready for the challenge,” added Neal.

However, what started as a promising day to race against some of the best in the state for White turned south really early in the race.

“Coach Wynn said Madi was up front in the top five through the first 3/4 mile but didn't look good and dropped back. We didn't know what was going on but found out later she had some serious breathing problems,” Neal said.

About a mile into the race, White dropped from 5th to 35th place and was barely holding on.

“I was at the two-mile mark as they hit their last hill. Something snapped and Madi took off again. She was really determined to finish strong,” Line said.

With that last mile looming, White's troubles cleared enough for her to pass over 20 top varsity runners and finish in the medals at 11th and a new school and personal record of 18:19.

"Wow! Amazing time for Madi. The course was fast and the weather was absolutely perfect but the whole team trained really hard after Cache Box Invite and it paid off today with outstanding times like Madi,” Neal added.

What surely would have been a sub 18 performance for White turned into a great effort and a learning lesson from the Lady Bears’ top harrier.

“It will benefit her later in the season but she is pretty ticked not to have broken 18," added Neal.

The girls’ team not only welcomed Tomlinson back to the ranks, they also welcomed back Shylee Kofoed and Liz Phillips and it was racing like normal. Kofoed had that smile on her face the whole way and stuck a great time of 19:37 which was a PR.

Junior teammate (and sister of Kenya) Naomi Tomlinson, wasn't far behind with a PR of 19:46.

“I tell you what, if we can keep building on today and get healthy and peak, we will do really well at region and state. It has been a tough year for the girls but they still have that hunger and desire. We think the world of each one of them,” said Neal.

The fourth runner for the Bears was freshman Rebecca Curtis, who also ran a PR (21:08) and continues to shine in her first year of competitive athletics.

The day was a complete success for the whole team as the JV girls squad ran the "fastest time in school history,” according to Line, with four girls eclipsing the 22-minute barrier including regular top varsity performer Phillips who saw her first race action of the season.

“Liz has been beside herself with her injury. Even the trainers and therapists we have worked with haven't had answers, but early last week we could tell her injury was on the mend and after six weeks of basically not running she ran 21:50. Like Shylee and Kenya, it was sure good to see her get back at it. She still has two and a half weeks until region. Her basic fitness is good, but she just needs some race work and speed and that can come pretty quickly. We are all hoping for a miracle with Liz. Today was a really good start that things can still go her way,” said Line.

Phillips ran in the junior varsity race to prevent further injuries.