BEAR RIVER HIGH – October 5, 2021
All of the area schools of northern Utah and southeast Idaho convened at the American West Heritage Center in Wellsville, Utah for the 2021 Cache Box Invitational on September 29.
The Bears from Bear River High School came in and put up a good fight and had a good showing.
“I guess we were a little disappointed we didn’t do a little better this year, but we just might have had our best showing ever. We only had one team and individual title but overall, we were rock solid,” said Bear River High’s cross-country Coach Dan Line.
Coach Line’s praise for the team was due to being the only team in all five races to have placed in the top three.
“We showed the kids how good they did and by the time we got home off the bus the team enthusiasm was growing and the kids felt really good about their efforts. I was just at a training where someone explained that the success is in the effort. The kids were very successful today,” he added.
Overall combined teams scores were:
Preston (9), Bear River (12), Ridgeline (16), Green Canyon (24), Sky View (26), Mt Crest (30), Box Elder (30), Logan (35) and West Side (41)
The first race of the day was historic.
The junior varsity girls’ squad from Bear River High had their best showing ever taking second place in front of everyone but Preston.
“I was so mad at Tyler Jones from Preston. His girls had never won JV or varsity and they were so good. I took it to him pretty hard, but Tyler is a great guy and good friend, so I was happy for him and his team,” Line said.
The JV girls had never finished higher than 4th place (2019) or beaten Ridgeline High or Mountain Crest High. Mission accomplished this year, especially after having finished dead last in 2020.
“Madison Auble and Makayla Arnold are two great younger runners on the team. They have improved all year and they both medaled (Auble 3rd, 21:56 – Arnold 7th, 22:24) and led the way for us,” said Tyrell Neal, Bear River High cross-country coach.
The rookie JV boys garnered the only team title for the Bears taking first place over region foes Sky View High and Ridgeline High with sophomore Dakota Julander (19:17) getting the only individual title. Newcomer and fellow sophomore Ren Hunter had a great finish to take 2nd (19:57).
First year runner Thomas Reid (20:29) took 6th, Logan Dean (20:42) 9th and Tanner Hamson (20:46) 10th.
In the faster JV race the Bears were upset by two hungry squads in Ridgeline and Preston, losing by a score of 46, 54, 55.
“Ridgeline boys were flat out hungrier than us and better prepared. We had beat them three years in a row and they wanted it back. The boys know they need to get after it better at Region and I will have to coach them up better too,” said Line.
Ryan Pace (4th, 18:29) and Carter Hamson (9th, 18:44) medaled for the JV squad.
In the final two races of the day the varsity squads held their own with more 3rd place finishes.
Senior star Liz Phillips took home an impressive 4th place (19:47) for the only medal on the girls’ side. The next four girls in for the scoring places showed great teamwork with all four girls within five places of each other and 17 seconds apart.
Leading the way in the #2 spot was sophomore Mattie Winward (20th, 21:20) followed by Becca Curtis (21st, 21:22), Bethany Richard (23rd, 21:36) and Katie Wynn (24th, 21:37).
“We are pleased with the day. We had a clear goal to run together and stay healthy and that’s exactly what we came out with. We need one more push before region and state and we hope to close the gap with Ridgeline. We are second amongst the region teams and we are ranked 4th in state. Hope to close in on some higher goals before the season is over,” Neal said.
Coach Neal made it point to single out what a great job senior Katie Wynn did in helping be that fifth scorer.
The boys wanted to repeat their runner-up finish from last year and coming into the meet it sure pointed to them being able to do that.
“First off, Preston varsity boys and girls were just tremendous. They are at another level than the rest of the area schools even though they are about half the size. We are looking to them as the standard. Lots to learn about their dedication to the sport. Glad we get to rub shoulders with them and Coach Jones and Campbell,” Line said.
Line mentioned the Preston boys because they won their fourth title in a row (23 points). Green Canyon High and top rival for the region title, snuck in front of the boys for second by a score of (94) to the Bears (102).
“Not what we wanted, but the boys have been hampered by some sickness. Matt, Phillip and Kenneth all showed a lot of heart to race while being sick and missing several practices. They will bounce back and do better,” Line added.
The Bears failed to medal in the race while being led by senior Ammon Hunter (11th, 17:20), David Bourgeous (18th, 17:45), Spotten (22nd, 17:53), Braxton Craven (23rd, 17:54), Gallegos (28th, 18:03), Kael Kowallis (34th, 18:14) and Pingle (50th, 18:45).
“Our packed fell apart a little. It wasn’t bad but not as good as Pre-State. Hopefully we place a little better individually once we get healthy. Still three weeks to region, so we are in a good spot heading down the final stretch of the season,” Line said.
Although the teams didn’t quite hit their top end goals at the meet, Bear River High’s Athletic Director Van Park delivered some amazing news to the athletes and their parents. For the third year in a row the varsity girls were named 4A State Academic Champions of the year for the cross-country with a combined GPA over 3.95.
Last year the varsity boys were runners up but were not to be denied this time around by also being named 2021 4A State Academic Champions of the year.
The Bears will next race at home Tuesday, October 5, at 3 p.m. at Jeannie Stevens Park in Tremonton. Spectators are welcome but are not allowed out on the course (golf course).
The team will also travel to the Burley Invitational at Kasota Park in Paul, Idaho to face off against some of the better 4A Idaho schools in the state Friday, October 8.