SPORTS - "The Bears are back on top!"

SMITHFIELD – September 1, 2020

Bear River's Daniel Curtis, August 26, 2020 - Photo by Tyrell Neal

After a tough showing at the Premier Invite to start the season, the varsity boys’ team for Bear River High School’s cross-country team showed their mettle during a Region 11 tri-meet at Sky View High on Wednesday, August 26, 2020.

"We have been running mostly in the mornings this summer because so many of our athletes work. We aren't used to the heat, but the boys pushed through that and not being rested. We didn't give them anytime off going into the meet and we ran on our strength and fitness. It didn't show as much at the Premier Invite but it showed today. We are so pleased with them," said Bear River High’s cross-country coach Dan Line.

The Bear River boys’ team plan was to go out conservative the first mile then slowly give it their all.

"Half mile into the race Logan High was clearly ahead of us, but with a mile to go all the boys on the team started to move. It was amazing. We pulled away clearly in the varsity race and then the JV swept the top nine places and got a perfect score. What an awesome race so early in the season," Line said.

The Bears were led by seniors Daniel Curtis and Peter Nielsen - who jockeyed with the other top runners for over 2.5 miles before moving to the front to stay. Curtis took first place individually with a time of 16:52 and Nielsen tood second at 16:56. They were soon followed by fellow seniors Keyjun Hale (17:42, 6th place) and Gabe Wilson (17:45, 7th place).

First year varsity runner and junior Phillip Gallegos secured the team win by also finishing in the top 10 with a great time and place - 17:46 for 8th place.

"The last couple years the boys just have not put it together as a team until late in the year. We have been asking them to get going early. Today was a great day and was preceded by some great practices. If they keep up the teamwork and togetherness, great things will happen," Line said.

Finishing in the remaining varsity spots were juniors Matt Spotten (18:03, 11th place) and Will Rhodes (18:34, 15th place).

Varsity boys’ team scores were Bear River 24, Sky View 52 and Logan 54.

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The 2020 Bear River High boys' cross-country team - Photo by Tyrell Neal

In the girls’ race, Bear River senior Madison White continued to shine and do well, although a mistake halfway through probably cost her a shot at winning.

"Madi was leading with and 1.5 miles to go but took a wrong turn. It cost her about 50 yards on the second-place runner pulled ahead. She was pretty bummed but realized she is running well and there will be more chances soon to have a great race," said Bear River High cross-country coach Tyrell Neal.

After being passed, White came in with a time of 19:28 in 2nd place - eventually losing to rival, and Sky View High standout, senior Kate Dickson, whom White beat by a few seconds for the region title last year. Just like the boys, White knew coming in she was tired from training through this meet and that the heat was going to be tough.

The rest of the Bear River girls’ team fared better this week. Junior sensation Shylee Kofoed managed to complete the meet without any setbacks.

"She is beside herself. Her spirit and will say go, go, go but her body is saying not yet. Her injury is slowly healing and her fitness is slowly coming back. No set back today so we look for her to start finding her stride again in about two weeks. She is happy to be back," said Neal.

Kofoed ran under restrictions the whole race but still managed to take 5th place with a time of 22:30. Following her in to place in the top 10 for the second week in a row was freshman Becca Curtis (younger sister of Daniel Curtis) who placed 6th and clocked a 22:34.

Fellow teammate and junior Katie Wynn made it three in a row to place 7th and have a time of 22:37.

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"We were without Naomi who was at soccer and Liz Phillips who ran 600 yards Tuesday morning and won't race for several more weeks. Kambri Gardner also went down in the race with a muscle cramp. The girls know we aren't at our best yet but they have a great attitude and things are getting better. We told them it is still August and we have a lot of time to get healthy. They are grateful and excited for this season," added Neal.

Finishing in the final varsity spot for the Bears, and for the first time ever, is a new member to the girls’ team, senior Kaitlyn McKee.

"We always have a few seniors come out for the first time. They are always a welcome addition because of their maturity, hard work, dedication and willingness to learn. Kaitlyn is all of that and more. She is such a great part of the team already," said Line.

The girls’ team from Bear River stayed close with host Sky View before finishing in 2nd place. Final girls’ varsity team scores were Sky View 25, Bear River 39 and Logan 67.

Next up for Bear River is the Top of Utah Invitational on September 4, at 9 a.m. The meet is being hosted by the Bears and will be held at the Weber County fairgrounds. Spectators are allowed but face masks are mandatory.

Photos by Tyrell Neal