Park City gets on track Region 10 finals
It’s been a track season fill of surprises for the Miners. Some good and some bad and somehow they all came together at the Region 10 Championships at Morgan High School this week.
Some of the good surprises have come from the team’s newest members. Freshman Eric Walker qualified for state in a number of events. Park City head co-head coach Jeff Wyant doesn’t hesitate to say that he is the fastest freshman Park City has ever had.
You can’t put into words what it means to have freshman that can qualify for state in two events," Park City co-coach Steve Crandall said. "You have three more years with that kid."
Walker, who has been running track since the fourth grade, is just excited to be a part of the state team.
"I’ve never been to state, so I’m not sure of the environment, but I’m looking forward to seeing it," Walker said. "I think we’ll do good in state. It will be close with us and Judge."
Some other young runners that will help the Miners’ cause against Judge include freshman female sprinter Sami Wall, as well as sophomore distance runners Luke Daenitz and Cameron Edwards.
One of the biggest surprises has been Matt Wright, a recent transfer from Murray High. According to Park City High School athletic director Doug Payne, Wright was officially cleared by the Utah High School Activities Association to compete for the Miners just hours before the region meet, and Wright still had to qualify for state in all of his events. That task seemed to be no problem as he placed at the top in the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash and even managed to qualify in the javelin throw both by distance and by the place he finished in.
"He’s great," Wyant said. "He’s better than we expected. He even qualified in javelin. That probably helps more than the sprints. With him, that’s keeping us in the running for second at state.
One of the more disappointing surprises of the season is Prescott McCarthy, who shattered his cheekbone in a skateboarding accident. Sidelined from training and competing for weeks, the mile and two-mile specialist finally returned for the region meet. Luckily, the senior had already qualified in the all of his events, including the 800-meter run, as he’ll only have a week and a half to try and get himself back into competition shape.
"It’s a lot to ask from him to come back and try to do something," Wyant said. "We lose a lot of points. He would’ve of placed second in the two mile and mile."
Wyant estimated the loss of McCarthy translated into a loss of about 20 points at both region and state.
In the 800-meter run, No. 1-ranked Brent Ryberg continued to dominate, but not without Judge’s distance running star Luke Puskedra coming up quickly behind him.
He’s the only thing standing close to me," Ryberg said. "He’s a really good runner."
This was the first time that Ryberg had run in an open race with Puskedra. Usually the two meet up in the medley relay where Judge is ahead and Ryberg has to try and catch Puskedra. Ryberg was happy that he was still able to win the race after running a leg in the 4×400-meter relay just before the 800 meter and a number of events throughout the two-day competition.
"That makes me feel 10 times more confident and I did a lot more races than him," Ryberg said.
The Miners fared well in all of the relay events, qualifying the girl’s team in the 4×400-meter race. Park City also added more state qualifiers to a growing list. In the girls 400-meter, Abby Hughes and Elli Reed both qualfied, as did Wright and Walker in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes. Edwards and Daenitz both made it to the state meet in the two-mile run
Senior Jared Purcell easily won both the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles, taking full advantage of the missing Alex Blazzard in the longer race. Blazzard, a Morgan runner who is ranked No. 1 in the state in the 300-meter hurdles, was out nursing an injury. Purcell also took second in the long jump a 21.5 inch jump. Hughes also qualified for state in the long jump. In the high jump, Lauren Deane and Mary Beth Cannon and both qualified for state, as well.
The only gaping hole for the Miners will be shot and discus, where a talented crop of Judge throwers dominate both the region and the state.
"That’s been a concern for the last couple of years," Crandall said." We’ve had a bit of a downturn. Jared and Matt are keeping us in it this year."
Without the extra points from some field events, both Park City coaches predict a second-place finish at the state championships. The UHSAA 3A State Championships will be held May 18-19 at Brigham Young University.
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