Park City High School cross country coach Jeff Wyant wasn't sure what sort of roster the girls' team would have this year after losing several key seniors from last year's squad.
Heading into the Murray Invitational last weekend, a meet with 42 teams from around the state, the Park City girls were ranked 57th in the nation.
They'll be ranked much higher heading into next week after capturing second place, losing only to 5A Davis, a team that was ranked eighth nationally.
"We gave them a scare," Wyant said of Park City's battle with Davis. "I suspect we'll be much higher in the next rankings."
Senior Maddie Criscione and Junior Alyssa Snyder are the key holdovers from last year's team, and they finished seventh and ninth, respectively. But the Miners were led by a senior who is currently participating in her first cross-country season McKenzie Bothner, who is also a prominent player on the girls' soccer team.
"She's really added a lot to the team," Wyant said.
Bothner was Park City's top finisher, running the 5K trail in 18 minutes, 4.8 seconds, good for a fifth-place overall finish.
Senior Sophie McDonald finished 18th overall to round out the four top-20 Miners.
Wyant said he was pleased with the way several newcomers stepped up in a big way at the first serious tournament of the year.
"Boy, we were kind of thrilled that they all ran so fast," he said. "I didn't think we'd be that good again [compared to last year's squad], but I think we might even be better."
The boys' team finished 14th out of 42 schools, something Wyant said is a sign of a more well-rounded team.
"We've got a better overall boys' team this year," he said. "The only schools that beat us were 4A and 5A schools. I think we'll be in a three- or four-way battle for the top 3A spot this year."
He acknowledged that losing a runner like Ben Saarel hurts, but that this year's team is stronger from top to bottom.
Senior Kyle Beling was the first Miner across the finish line. He came in 52nd place overall with a time of 16:51.2.
Junior Guy Eroh and sophomore Wes Miller finished 77th and 83rd, respectively.
Next, the Miners will head to Idaho for the Bob Firman Invitational, where Wyant is hoping to see his teams thrive against competition from all across the northwestern United States.
"The girls can take second or third, I think," he said. "If we can do that, we'll knock off some more nationally-ranked teams."
Upon returning from Idaho, the Miners will host a region preview meet on Oct. 4, giving themselves and other region teams a chance to run the Round Valley course that will host the Region Championships on Tuesday, Oct. 15.