BEAR RIVER HIGH – September 21, 2021
Thursday morning on September 16, the Bear River High cross-country teams went to a pre-state meet and made a statement to the teams in the 4A classification - particularly the teams of Region 11.
Pre-state was held at the newly established state cross-country course on the grounds of the Salt Lake City Regional Athletic Complex.
“That's a big facility. Sixteen soccer fields and tons of grass as flat as can be. The kids liked it, but they also said it was boring. It was the first full 5k we have raced this year and it was a little long to boot,” said Bear River High cross-country coach Dan Line.
There were no regular varsity and junior varsity team competitions this go around, just races by school classes. Freshmen and sophomore girls raced first then the boys followed by junior and senior girls who were also followed by the boys.
The Lady Bears’ freshmen and sophomores stole the show winning the meet against the best 4A teams in the state while also taking down a few 5A and 6A squads.
“We knew the girls would do well and about half-way through it was pretty clear they would win the race. They just did their best and all the practice is beginning to pay off. Coach Line has done a great job of keeping their mileage up and laying off speed work for now. They kids are buying in and realize it is a long-term process with great payoff at the end of the season. Today was just the beginning of something special,” said Bear River High cross-country coach Tyrell Neal.
Leading the girls’ group of underclassmen were medalists Becca Curtis (9th place, 21:01.5), Bethany Richard (10th, 21:07.9) and Mattie Winward (18th, 21:26.7). Finishing out the scoring top five were freshmen Makala Arnold (23rd, 21:52.5) and sophomore Madison Auble (26th, 22:06.2).
That pushed the girls to an impressive 80-108 win over defending state champions Pine View High followed by Park City High (115), Cedar City High (131) and Northridge High (156).
“That is a pretty stellar top five if you know who-is-who in Utah cross-country. Super proud of those girls and excited for the future,” added Neal.
In the girls’ junior and senior race, team captain Liz Phillips really had an impressive race. Her time of 20:03.4 put her into medalist position with a 7th place finish. It also put her less than six seconds behind the top runner in Region 11.
“Liz has a goal and a real chance to be region individual champion this year. She is working hard every day. She is taking her time to train the right way and build a base. We hope the progress keeps coming. She will be a real threat come region and state,” Neal said.
Phillips' time makes her a clear medalist favorite in the 4A classification.
Senior Katie Wynn ran well with a solid 40th place and time of 22:02.6. She was followed by fellow varsity runner Shylee Kofoed (61st, 22:51.5).
“Shylee has been patient and smart but today we just said it is time to run a fast pace. She was good through 1.5 miles and then had some fatigued in her hip. She didn't quit and she realizes it is time to start battling through the adversity. We really hope by Cache Box she starts getting closer to where she wants to be. We are really proud of her,” said Line.
The boys’ freshmen/sophomore race saw David Bourgeous (8th, 17:28.3) and Braxton Craven (9th, 17:36.8) step it up and race with the big dogs.
“We wanted David and Braxton to lay off the pace a little then try and move into the top 10. They looked great out there and ran smart and belonged with the kids from the larger schools. We are really blessed as a team to have two such great sophomores, both for the varsity this year and as leaders going forward,” Line said.
Both boys garnered medalist honors for the young Bears.
The last race of the day featured a deep group of junior/senior runners from Bear River High.
“That is a really good group of older boys. We have tons of depth. Our seniors are definitely the lead group, but the junior class is coming on strong and doing well,” Line said.
“Both our young boys and older boys placed in the top third of the races. We were happy with that considering how many good teams and how many big teams were in our heats,” Line added.
Leading the varsity group were seniors Matt Spotten (28th, 17:21.3), Ammon Hunter (36th, 17:29.3), Phillip Gallegos (38th, 17:30.9), Kenneth Pingle (54th, 17:52.7) and Kael Kowallis (59th, 17:56.5).
“What was most impressive when you combine David and Braxton into the varsity group is that all five our top boys were within 15 seconds of each other. Can't ask for more than that. And Kael and Kenneth made up all of our top seven within 30 seconds. We have been practicing and talking about it and the boys are making it happen. We look pretty good right now and we aren't even tapering. Got to keep at the hard work,” Line said.
That hard work for all the teams paid off when the coaches compared the pre-state results just within the region.
“I knew the varsity boys dominated. I thought the JV boys were really good. The girls did alright, but we were stunned how well they did. And the biggest surprise were the JV girls. Wow!” Line exclaimed.
The coaching staff scored the meet with just the Region 11 runners.
The varsity boys won easily over the next best boys’ team in the region Green Canyon High 32-62. Sky View High followed with 85, then Ridgeline High with 86 and Mountain Crest High with 92.
The JV boys did one better with a perfect score of 15 to top Ridgeline (45), Sky View (81), Green Canyon (108) and Mountain Crest (145).
For the second invitational in a row, the Lady Bears varsity team won a tiebreaker over Ridgeline, this time it was 38-38 with senior runner Katie Wynn beating the number six runner from Ridgeline by 37 seconds.
Green Canyon (72), Mt Crest (93) and Sky View (122) followed. And for the first time in school history, the girls’ JV squad beat Ridgeline 25-30. The other teams followed in the same order with the scores being Green Canyon (56), Mt Crest (70) and Sky View (103).
Next up for the Bears is a much-needed break for some quality training and rest before facing the whole region and county rival Box Elder High at the Cache Box Invitational. The meet will be held Wednesday, September 29, at the American West Heritage Center in Wellsville. The first race is planned to begin at 3 p.m.