PCHS cross country: Miners shine among best in the West | ParkRecord.com

PCHS cross country: Miners shine among best in the West

Christopher Kamrani, The Park Record

The sunny 67-degree weather in Walnut, Calif., last Saturday was embraced by the members of the Park City High School cross-country team as they participated in the 33rd annual Foot Locker Cross Country Championships West Regional race.

"Oh, it was nice," said Park City head coach Jeff Wyant.

To compete against the top runners out West, the Miners took 11 runners six girls and five boys who either finished in the top 10 or met certain times at the state cross-country meet in October.

And, to no one’s surprise, it was two-time defending 3A state champion Ben Saarel who led Park City, finishing 11th in the boys’ seeded race, with a time of 15 minutes and 59 seconds.

"That was obviously the highlight of the meet," Wyant said. "Eleventh place in the Western Region is pretty impressive at any time; and just considering he’s just a junior.

"I thought he ran a great race, and there were just 10 guys faster than him. We had a plan for a race, hoping for a top 20 finish. He superseded my expectations."

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Wyant said his team was more than up to the challenge.

"I told them when we got out there, ‘These are the future Olympians. When we go out there, you’re seeing the absolute best of the best in your sport at your age,’" he said.

Junior Colter Merritt finished 88th overall in the boys’ seeded race out of 217 competitors, while fellow junior Nate Gideon finished ninth in the boys’ junior race out of 323 racers. Senior Aaron Green placed eighth in the boys’ senior race.

Juniors Ali Walker (66th) and Annie Orr (104th) and senior McKenzie Snyder (115th) had respectable outings in the girls’ seeded race.

Freshman Alyssa Snyder finished ninth in the girls’ frosh/soph All-West race, while sophomore runner Kaila Balch finished 28th.

"I think it was a great trip," Wyant said. "It gives them a chance to run at the next level where we’re hoping they’ll set their goals at."

Wyant said the weather in Southern California was much more enjoyable than the 23-degree day in Park City last Saturday, and that he was proud of the way some of his best runners finished their already-strong cross-country season.

"That’s the end of the season," he said. "We just wanted them to finish it off well, and they did."