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SPORTS – “Big step forward on the cross-country course for the Bears”

Updated: Sep 15, 2021

BEAR RIVER HIGH – September 13, 2021

Bear River High's Liz Phillips, September 3, 2021 - Photo by Tyrell Neal

The cross-country team at Bear River High School focused on their first big invitational of the season and the effort paid off. After starting the season training through races and putting in a lot of work, the runners from Bear River decided to lace up their spikes and lay down some speed at the Top of Utah Invitational on Friday, September 3.

The race was directed by Bear River High’s head coach Dan Line and included 22 teams from northern Utah including two of the best 6A programs in the state – Farmington High School (coached by Bear River High alumni Chris Brower) and perennial state and national power Davis High School.

“Coach Sandy MacSparran and I started this race over 15 years ago here in town and the opportunity to grow the meet and hold it in Ogden came up so we have kept at it. We had almost 1,200 athletes run and our kids held their own and did great,” said Line.

The first race of the day was the varsity boys in the 3A-4A division. Bear River High senior Matt Spotten took 5th (15:38.4) in a loaded field and was followed by fellow senior Phillip Gallegos who placed 12th with his best race of the season (15:50.9). Kael Kowallis also shined with an excellent time of 16:13.9 placing 19th.

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Matt Spotten, September 3, 2021 - Photo by Tyrell Neal

Seniors Will Rhodes and Kenneth Pingle rounded out the boys’ varsity team in that race.

“We finished 5th in the team standings and we weren't too far out of second. The result was misleading though because we gave some of our younger varsity runners a chance to race against the top 6A junior varsity kids in the Open JV race and we also had Ammon Hunter in that race to get his feet wet. Ammon only had a couple days of practice. Those three ran great. If we would have ran them together in the regular varsity race, we would have beat the best team in the Region 11 (Green Canyon High School) by 23 points and rival Ridgeline High School by 42 points. The kids were stoked with their performances,” Line said.

The three boys in the 6A-Open JV race ran blistering times of 15:47.3 for sophomore Braxton Craven, 16:04.8 for Hunter and 16:10.2 for sophomore David Bourgeous.

“That gave us six runners in before any region teams 3rd and 4th. Braxton would have medaled in the varsity race and Ammon would have been top 15. We don't have the star power of last year but our depth and pack are amazing right now,” Line added.

The girls squad also had their best race yet.

“The girls did what the boys did. After getting trounced by Ridgeline High last week, we came back and showed our mettle. The results today show the girls that they should have one goal in mind come region,” said Tyrell Neal, Bear River High’s head coach for the girls’ team.

Senior Liz Phillips kept the pace for the team with an excellent 3rd place finish and stellar time of 18:06.5. Sophomore Becca Curtis got in on the hardware placing 7th and running 19:10.6. Newcomer to the team Bethany Richard missed the medal stand (11th) by .3 seconds, running 19:17.2.

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Becca Curtis, September 3, 2021 - Photo by Tyrell Neal

The girls’ varsity finished up with Katie Wynn (19:44.1), Shylee Kofoed 20:20.6 and Madison Auble 21:17.4. and putting the girls in 2nd place overall behind Ridgeline High. But just like in the boys’ race, the coaches decided to let some new and younger athletes take it on in the junior varsity race.

“Mattie Winward just decided to come help run even though she was doing soccer. She ran great at the county fair and we thought she might break into the varsity ranks but we wanted her to have a junior varsity race first. She had a great junior varsity race. Freshman Makayla Arnold was amazing running 20:39.3 making her the second best freshman in the race,” Neal said.

Winward shined in the junior varsity race placing 2nd with a time of 19:14.4.

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Mattie Winward, September 3, 2021 - Photo by Tyrell Neal

“We are glad she ran there but her time would have taken 8th in the varsity race and that score would have tied us with Ridgeline. Shylee ran a gutty race while still fighting through her injury from track and she would have won the tiebreaker for us with Ridgeline High. She really made a great jump from last week and we keep praying for her to get stronger and healthy. She is doing all the hard work right now to make it happen,” Neal added.

Additionally, Phillips and Curtis were Best of Class winners as two of the top seniors and sophomores in the entire field counting all classifications.

“We have got to stay healthy and we have got to keep building a base. If we do that, we can do our best at state and region as a team. The kids are doing an amazing job and we are super excited for them,” said Line.

More photos of the Top of Utah Invitational from September 3, can be found below.

In a smaller race this past Wednesday, September 8, the Bears traveled to Green Canyon High for a regular region dual meet. The boys’ varsity team beat Green Canyon High again and the girls’ varsity took second place.


Bear River 24

Green Canyon 31

1. 12 Dylan Chambers 16:40 Green Canyon 2. 12 Phillip Gallegos 17:08 Bear River 3. 10 Clark Campbell 17:10 Green Canyon 4. 12 Ammon Hunter 17:12 Bear River 5. 12 Matthew Spotten 17:19 Bear River 6. 10 David Bourgeous 17:21 Bear River 7. 12 Kael Kowallis 17:40 Bear River 8. 10 Trent Strong 17:53 Green Canyon 9. 10 Drew Strong 17:54 Green Canyon 10. 12 London Johnson 18:00 Green Canyon 11. 10 Braxton Craven 18:07 Bear River 12. 12 Will Rhodes 18:36 Bear River 13. 12 Conner Jensen 18:36 Green Canyon 14. 12 Andrew Riding 18:40 Green Canyon


Green Canyon 24

Bear River 31

1. 11 Katie Latvakoski 19:13 Green Canyon 2. 12 Liz Phillips 20:48 Bear River 3. 9 Hadlie Ballard 20:54 Green Canyon 4. 10 Rebecca Curtis 20:56 Bear River 5. 12 Kaylee Allen 21:04 Green Canyon 6. 10 Bethany Richard 21:05 Bear River 7. 9 Hailey Shakespear 21:06 Green Canyon 8. 12 Emma Smith 21:30 Green Canyon 9. 12 Katie Wynn 21:35 Bear River 10. 10 Madison Auble 21:54 Bear River 11. - Britta Israelson 22:14 Green Canyon 12. 10 Julia Larsen 22:16 Green Canyon 13. 12 Shylee Kofoed dnf Bear River 14. 10 Mattie Winward dns Bear River

Up next for the Bear River High cross-country team is a pre-state meet at the Salt Lake City Soccer Complex on Thursday, September 16.

Photos courtesy of Tyrell Neal


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