Park City wins close race in Region 10
On Wednesday, Region 10 Cross-Country Championships at the Cottonwood Complex in Salt Lake brought a mix of emotions.
There was elation that the boys were finally able to steal the title from Judge Memorial along with yet another girl’s championship crown.
Then there was a distinct feeling of claustrophobia.
Although the Miners beat the Bulldogs, the girls did so by a mere three points 34-31. The boys tied Judge 34-34, but a faster-sixth place runner from Park City broke the tie in the Miners favor.
"They were too close for comfort," said Park City head coach Jeff Wyant.
Wyant said they were fairly confident that the team would perform well. He had just assumed it would be with a slightly better performance.
"It’s a better team than we’ve ever had. They are deeper," Wyant said.
In fact, five of the top six runners finished with a sub 17-minute time and the sixth runner followed closely behind. Freshman Carson Fugal, at the No. 5 spot, surprised the competition, keeping up with much older and more experienced runners.
"He stepped up and saved us," Wyant said. "Anywhere had we lost a point, we would have lost."
The tight finish is cause for some concern for Wyant and co-head coach Bill Kahn. They had expected the Miners to challenge for second at the 3A State Championships next Wednesday, but with Judge finishing neck-and-neck, Park City could possibly drop to third place.
"If they are going to pull it off, they all have to be a little faster," Wyant said.
Wyant is just hoping that the pressure of the state meet will encourage his team to run faster, not slower. Park City’s number one runner, Prescott McCarthy, finished second behind Judge’s Luke Puskedra at the region meet, and will likely only have him to beat. Defending 3A state champion John Hart will also be vying for a repeat crown, but McCarthy has beat him during regular season meets, and could easily move past him on Wednesday.
"He’s gonna put himself in position to race for second and if the Judge kid falls, than he can grab it," Wyant said.
Stranger things have happened. Last year at state, Puskedra had a tough day that dropped him all the way down to seventh place and Hart and McCarthy easily moved into the top two slots.
"Prescott learned his lesson that anything can happen at the state meet," Wyant said.
The girls will also have a challenge at the state meet. The Judge top three female runners continue to dominate every race and should continue to do so at state. The Miners have won all year on depth, rather than the fastest runner, but Wyant expects that Park City will have to finish a close fourth through sixth place behind the Bulldogs to wrap up the team title.
Rosie Brennan led the Park City girls and Wyant expects that she will also lead the girls mentally into sate.
"She sets the standard mentally," Wyant said. "She sets the tone not just in time, but attitude towards the race."
And a positive and focused attitude is what the girls will need to finish strong as a team. They will be without the help of their No. 1 runner, Julie McMahon, who is out for the season with a stress fracture, so peak performances will be necessary from all seven runners.
With the region championships behind them, the Miners are focusing on being ready for state. Wyant and Kahn are tapering distance and increasing speed at the end of runs to get the team’s legs ready.
"That was step one. The big one is state. We’re trying to bring everything together," Wyant sad.
The 3A State Cross-Country Championships will be held at Sugarhouse Park in Salt Lake on Wednesday, Oct. 18 at noon.
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