Wasatch High cross country teams performed to near perfection this past weekend at the Region Championships in Orem. In fact, most of the runners from both the boys teams and girls teams were able to run their best times of the season in what will be one of the last races of the year for most team members—a great way to end the season and build confidence for following years.
Assistant cross country and head track coach, Brad Foster, is pleased with both squads because they will be building for the upcoming track season. “Being an assistant on the cross country team right now—it is good for me, and I hope it is good for the kids, too. My hope is that most of them will continue with winter running because it simply makes the team better when we hit the track in the Spring.” This looks to be the case as the team is already making plans to take their biggest group they have ever had to an out-of-state competition in California at the beginning of December—the regional race, Footlocker. “It’s a place where kids can run for a final PR on the year, but it is also a place where kids can go on a trip with their teammates and have a good time as well—sort of a break at the end of the long year of training,” notes coach Foster. Kids get a much needed two-week break in running after Footlocker before they start training for the indoor track season.
As for the Region Championship, Head Coach Shauna Bowden was extremely pleased with both teams qualifying. “We have worked so hard this year to make this a reality for both teams,” noted coach Bowden, “because the boys have not qualified as a team in quite a while.” It has been two years, in fact since the boys squad has made it to state as a team, and this year is a big payoff for the seniors who have been with the program for the past four years. Senior captain, Andrei Hinckley, after finishing the race on Friday held back some deep-seeded emotion as he realized that this would be his first trip to the State Meet—something he has worked on personally for four long years. “Yup,” mentions Hinckley, “I have been killing myself in workouts for four years and finally… FINALLY, I am going to state!” Andrei ran a personal best time at the meet, hitting a personal best mark of his high school career with a 15:59—assisting the Wasatch boys squad to a 4th place region finish, and an automatic trip to the State meet as a team.
Jake Ellis led the boys team with another incredible personal best time of 15:43 (over 10 seconds better than he has run on any course this year), and the other boys on the team did just as well in their personal sphere. Running over 30 seconds faster than he ever has, Mason Heimburger came in third on the boys side, laying down a time of 16:10 on the Region course, and Bentley Ackerson absolutely destroyed his personal best time by nearly a minute—clocking in at 16:42 on the day. Rounding out the last scoring spot on the team was Matthias Dunn who ran a stellar personal best mark for the year with a 16:48. The final spots on the varsity team went to Josh Horner, Josh Benson, and Mack Hinckley—each one dishing out an amazing time of their own for the year with Horner running a 16:59 (30 seconds faster than he has ever run), Benson running a 17:16 (15 seconds faster than he has ever run), and Hinckley running a 17:42 (a near-P.R. even on an injured foot).
The boys JV squad ran incredibly well at Region—taking 5th overall at the meet. Too many kids ran personal record times to mention here, but the full results for all teams are found under the “Results” section of runnercard.com where you can track times, splits, and personal best marks.
The girls Varsity squad stole the fourth place automatic-qualifying spot for State as well—marking the second straight year the girls squad has qualified for state. Coach Bowden is incredibly pleased with the girls squad this year, and notes their ability in looking forward to the State meet: “This looks to be the fastest girls team we have had,” notes Bowden, “We have never had more than one or two girls running in the 19’s, and we could have a few at the state meet this year if they work hard.” Coach Foster is equally as excited for the girls: “Last year the girls went top 10 in 4A at the State meet—which was a major accomplishment. This year, we should be in the top 10, and could go as high as top 5 in the 5A classification,” notes Foster. “The girls have been coached so well, and have been so motivated that I’d be surprised if they don’t end up in the top 5 of the whole state.” Led by team captains, Abby West and Amy Richardson, the girls squad worked hard to get in to the State meet at Region, and they want to perform well to put a good end to the year. “We have experienced some hard times this year with injuries and tough races, but we have worked through them,” mentions Amy, “We just have to finish the year out in a strong way so that we can all be happy with what we have accomplished!”
The girls squad was amazing at Region with Abby West leading the way. In fact, every team member hit their personal best mark of the season, and some hit the best mark of their lives. Abby placed third overall in the Region with an amazing 18:00 run over the 3 mile course—a personal best mark by 17 seconds. Freshman runner Abbie Randall ran the best-ever recorded time for a Wasatch Freshman on a Region course—and PRd by a full minute—with a stellar 19:04 mark for the race. The third place spot on the team went to Anna Baird, who also ran a full minute faster than she ever has, with a time of 19:18. The final two scoring spots on the team went to Amy Richardson and Hailey Ellis, who both ran PRs for the year with Richardson laying down a 19:58, and Ellis coming in only seconds later with a 20:08. Other varsity participants included Becca Mathis, Madelyn King, and Savannah Dorrough with Becca hitting a PR for the year (20:12), Madelyn hitting the PR of her career so far (20:37), and Savannah hitting a career PR as well (21:03).
“This being one of the larger girls’ squads in recent memory—in addition to the 8 Varsity runners, there were also 15 JV girl runners—the times have come down as a result” notes Foster. “That bodes extremely well for the future of this girls team,” continues Foster, “because there are some great young runners who will be pushing those older runners for a varsity spot in track and in cross country next year.” The girl’s JV squad performed incredibly well on the Region course with nearly every girl running their best times to date. Again, these results can be found, tracked, and are recorded at runnercard.com.
“We are incredibly happy with both of our teams this year,” says Coach Bowden, “I have had some great assistants in Coach Jon Sheehan, Coach Miyazawa Shinano, and Coach Brad Foster, and they have helped us improve these teams this year due to their consistency and ability to inspire.” Considering the teams, Bowden mentions that “both teams put in the time and dedication throughout the season. This is the fastest girls team that Wasatch has ever seen. Also, the boys team worked together, stepping up when (co-top athlete) Kyle Weldon became injured with several Varsity members taking over a minute off their times since the start of the season. We have 2 members of our boys’ team that ran a sub-16 at Region—that hasn't happened in a very long time.”
The State meet, on October 18th, will be run this year at Sugarhouse Park in Salt Lake City, as usual. The girls will race at 2:00, and the boys at 3:30.