Miners hold their own against state’s toughest teams
The Park City High School track teams proved they’re ready for state on Saturday after facing the toughest competition they’ll see this year. The BYU Invitational in Provo showcased the best athletes in Utah from 3, 4 and 5A schools, giving the Miners a chance to test themselves against a field with, theoretically, three times the talent they’ll see at the 3A state meet on May 16.
The meet featured five of the nation’s best prep performances, including Judge High School Luke Puskedra’s ground-breaking time of 8:56 in the 3,200 meters the first time a high school athlete has broken nine minutes in Utah and a new nation-leading high school time in the women’s 400-meter dash with Spanish Fork’s Natalie Stewart, at 53.39.
Bigger schools didn’t necessarily translate to tougher competition, Park City head coach Jeff Wyant noted. Athletes from 3A schools won every individual event beyond 200 meters on the men’s side, and 3A women fielded a number of top-5 finishes.
"Everyone has gotten tougher," Wyant said. "Being in 3A, the state meet won’t necessarily be much easier."
For some Park City athletes, it didn’t matter who was on the track. In the 800 meters, Brent Ryberg beat a field of 82 runners with a time of 1:55.08, besting his sea-level 1:56 earlier this year in California and crossing the line two full seconds ahead of the second-place finisher.
"He had a great run," Wyant said. Kenny Holt and Cameron Edwards also raced well in the event, he added, earning spots in the top half of the field.
The women’s 800 meter trio of Whitney Warner, Gillian Gorelick and Jessie Christjans continued a successful streak with top-20 finishes. Gorelick ran virtually alone in her heat, winning with a state-qualifying 2:24.32. Warner fought traffic in the following heat, but broke away the last 300 meters to win uncontested with a time of 2:23.78.
"Those girls have really done consistently well, and they keep improving," Wyant said, noting the warmer weather ahead will help bring times down even further.
Sophomore Erik Walker will also compete at state, running an impressive 11.28 to finish 12th of a total 121 sprinters in the 100-meter dash.
Other Miner standouts in the sprints included senior Julia Mollner and Charlie Sisk in the 400-meter dash, and Jessie Christjans and Hannah Wilson in the 200-meters.
In distance events, Luke Daenitz and Kenny Holt ran sub-4:50 in the 1,600 meters, while Carson Fugal, who broke the Park City High School sophomore class 1,600 meter record in Morgan last week, neared the 10-minute barrier in the 3,200 meters with a time of 10:05.30.
"We’re just trying to get as many athletes qualified for state now as possible now," Wyant said.
The teams will have their chance today at the Region 10 meet, where the top four individuals in each event will advance. The meet, originally scheduled at Park City, will now take place at Uintah High School because of the poor condition of Park City’s track.
"It needs some repairs," Wyant said. The Miners will travel three hours to Vernal, Utah, staying overnight in a hotel and continuing competition tomorrow.
The state meet will take place May 16 and 17 at Brigham Young University in Provo. Wyant expects tough competition, but believes his team is prepared.
"I thought [the BYU meet] was great," he said. "Pretty much all the distance runners ran their best times. We’ll see what happens."
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