Four Park City High School boys' lacrosse players were selected for the Utah Elite squad that competed in the under-17 FIL Lacrosse World Championships tournament in Denver last weekend.
Chase Christensen, Chad Merrick, Cole Flinders and Chase Flinders were all part of the team, which was coached in part by Park City assistants Todd Faiella and Nick Gradinger.
Fresh off a state championship with PCHS, the four incoming seniors had no idea what to expect on the bigger stage in Colorado.
"We thought we had a pretty good chance," Chase Flinders said. "There was definitely a lot of good competition, so our mindset was just to play as hard as we could and see where we ended up."
Earning the No. 3 seed in the tournament was an unexpected bonus, Flinders added.
"That was amazing in itself," he said. "I was a little bit surprised. I didn't think we'd do as well as we did at all."
But, he continued, though the players on the Utah Elite team came from all over the state, they weren't exactly starting from scratch in terms of cohesiveness.
"I had known most of the players on that team beforehand, from other clubs and stuff, so we had pretty good chemistry," he said. "That helped a ton with ball movement and knowing how each other played it was great."
"The other guys on the Utah team, they either play on the Utah Starz or the Utah Blackhawks," Cole Flinders added. "It's not like this is the first time we've played together."
That chemistry became apparent early in the tournament, as the Utah Elite team cruised through the opening rounds.
"The game before the championship game was a really tough game against a Canadian team," Chase Flinders said.
"The coach of Six Nations didn't want to do running time, so we played stopping time," Cole Flinders added. "It took a little longer."
Heading into the finals, the Utah Elite team didn't have much time to prepare.
"We only had a 15-minute break before the championship," Chase said.
"It was tough," Cole continued. "After playing a long game, everyone's tired and wants to take a break and drink some water. Everyone's legs were tired, too."
Despite the short break, Utah Elite got out to an early lead before fatigue set in.
"We started off strong," Cole said. "The score was 4-0 or 4-1 at halftime. Then the second half started getting to us. It was 7-6 at the end, but we managed to hold on."
Then the celebration was on.
"I couldn't believe it," Cole said. "Going into this tournament, I thought we'd do alright. I knew we had a good team, so I knew we wouldn't be terrible, but I was surprised we won it all."
"It was surreal," Chase added. "We just came off a state championship win, so to win this tournament was crazy. It was just crazy to win another championship with [my PCHS teammates] on a bigger stage."
With a state championship and now a world championship under their belts so far this summer, Cole Flinders said he can't even imagine where else is left to go.
"We had won the state championship with Park City. I couldn't believe that we won the world championship two months later," he said. "I have no idea what's next."