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PCHS bullish on fall sports

SKYLER BELL, Of the Record staff

When a team no longer sets its sights on a state title, but instead starts to compete against its own previous scores, it either means they’re so good they have no one to compete with, or so bad that ‘compete’ isn’t even a part of their vocabulary.

For the Park City girls cross-country team, it’s invariably the former, and the boys are on their way.

"Of course we want a fifth state championship for the girls, but maybe the lowest score ever," head coach Jeff Wyant said. "For the guys, we’d like to at least be in the top two."

The girls look poised to pull it off. After last year’s team won its fourth straight 3A state title, the Miners only lost one major component of last year’s squad Devry Karz, who finished 10th statewide.

Although the Miners have been unbeatable as a team the last four years, they have yet to win an individual title, but they return runners who finished second and third each of the last two years.

"We’ve taken about five of the top 12 places, but we’ve not had an individual win it," Wyant said. "Ellie Reed placed second two years ago and third last year, and Rosie Brennan placed second last year and third the year before. The two girls just flip-flopped."

Reed and Brennan, both entering their senior years, will battle for the state’s top spot.

Park City also returns sophomore Elizabeth Gideon, who placed eighth in state last year. Wyant said she came back from summer vacation in top shape and he expects her to have a great season.

Then there is newcomer Julie McNaughton, a senior who moved with her family to Park City after a successful junior season in North Carolina in which she qualified for state.

"She looks to be in the top 10 in the state, and probably higher than that," Wyant said. "It’s too bad she’s a senior and we’ll only get to see her run for one year."

On the boys’ side, they return from a fourth-place finish at the state finals last year and hope to build on that performance to join the girls as state champions.

Senior Prescot McCarthy finished second in state last year and dominated the two-mile in track.

"We are hoping he can move up one place, which would be top in the state, but he has a really good guy he’s competing against that he has to overcome," Wyant said.

Wyant also said senior Andrew Archer, who Wyant called the team’s most improved runner over the last two years, has become an all-state candidate.

The Miners will have their first meet next Saturday at American Fork and will run at home Sept. 6 at the new course near the Park City Ice Rink.

Girls Tennis

Nationally ranked Bevin Peek is gone, playing at San Luis Obispo, but there’s a new No.1 for Park City High’s girls tennis team.

Sophomore Ali McMahon will move up from her former No. 2 singles position to try to lead the Miners back to another Region 10 title, which they won last year by sweeping every position.

The Miners also lost No.1 doubles player Ashley Fields and No. 2 doubles player Lindsay Albrecht.

Head coach Lori McMahon, entering her eighth season at Park City, said the ladder is not established and there are still positions, including all four doubles spots, up for grabs.

However, newcomers will have a hard road ahead of them to slip in front of sophomore Tessa Wray, who took second in state last year at the No. 3 singles spot, senior Tori Sowul and sophomore Hilary Packham.

McMahon said 31 girls came out for this year’s team, creating a healthy competition for the three singles spots and the four spots on the two doubles teams allowed by varsity. The girls who don’t earn one of the seven spots on varsity will play JV with hopes of getting called up to play with the top team.

"We’re going to be very competitive in our region with Judge, but we’re up against Juan Diego, Ogden and Judge for state," McMahon said. "I think we’ll do well at state. I’m just excited to have so many girls that are interested in girl tennis and that they have fun together."

Their first season match is Aug. 24 at Unitah at 3 p.m., followed by the Utah State Invitational two days later. Practice matches started Thursday.

Volleyball

Sophomore Aundrea Hargroder will lead the Park City High volleyball team into the 2006 season by being the likely starter at setter for the Miners, head coach Josh Fisher said.

Hargroder, who earned the starting spot halfway through last season, will only be one of many returning players with starting experience.

After losing Briana Sardo to graduation, senior Kelly Barber will likely step in at the vacated middle blocker position.

"She brings experience," Fisher said. "She’s a third-year varsity player who started every match for us last season."

Junior Lauren Deane will start at outside hitter, although a broken pinky has hindered her preseason play.

"She’s going to have to be our go-to outside hitter," Fisher said. "I don’t know if she’s there quite yet, but she’ll get there."

Although he has experienced players on his roster, Fisher said the talent of many of the younger players will add depth to a team that finished sixth in Region 10 last year.

"We’re going to rotate people through," he said. "We’re a really deep team and everyone is fighting for a spot every day. I expect us to be better than last year. I feel we’re better than average at every position and we’re really deep. They worked hard in the off-season to take this program where it needs to be."

Their first match was scheduled for Friday in St. George, but results were unavailable at press time. Their home opener will be a tournament next Friday and Saturday.

Golf

The PCHS golf team, known in the past for their depth, will be much younger in 2006 than in previous years.

Coming off a state title in 2004, last year’s team won Region 10 and placed fourth at state. Many of the players on last year’s team will return, as this year’s squad will feature four seniors, three juniors, two sophomores and three freshmen. However, the team lost Barrett DeWald and David Cunningham to graduation.

Head Coach Tim Jeffery said senior Scott Case and junior Greg Method will likely lead the team this year, although the eight players playing the best golf at the time will be chosen to compete in each match.

Jeffery said he went with a younger team this year so that more returning players will have tournament experience next year.

"We haven’t been this young before, but the reason we went with a young team was to prepare for the future," he said. "We’re going to lose four kids next year."

The team will open its season with a match against Wasatch on Aug. 24.


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