PCHS cross-country: Park City Invitational balloons in size, popularity
If you took a glance toward Quinn’s Junction sometime Friday afternoon, you probably did a double take.
That’s because more than 1,250 high school runners from 30 different schools made their way to Quinn’s Junction to participate in the largest Park City Invitational cross-country meet in history.
Runners from classes 2A through 5A cluttered the 5K course in the Round Valley area Friday as the host team turned out one of its best performances of the season. The Park City High School girls’ squad won the varsity meet with four runners finishing in the top nine. Senior Ali Walker finished third overall (18:32), four seconds behind second place Caroline Weiler of Skyline. Lucy Biles of Herriman won with a final time of 18:13.1.
Behind Walker were the usual Park City suspects as senior Annie Orr finished fifth (18:39.8), junior Sophie McDonald finished seventh (18:44.4) and sophomore Alyssa Snyder finished ninth (18:51.1).
"We had four girls under 19 minutes. I think that’s the first time we’ve ever done that," said Park City cross-country coach Jeff Wyant. "That is pretty impressive. Those four pretty much deliver a knockout blow, so we’ve got to make the fifth (runner) a little quicker."
Finishing behind the Miners in the girls’ team standings were 4A Skyline in second and 4A Maple Mountain in third.
Park City star senior Ben Saarel was absent from the race on a collegiate visit, but the Miner boys finished eighth overall without their top runner. Senior Colter Merritt led Park City in 35th, while junior Kyle Beling finished 41st. Wyant said the boys’ team has a number of talented sophomores and racing against the top competition in the state will only help them as their careers progress.
"We have a whole crew of sophomores running really well," he said. "They’re pretty young, so they’re not making that much of an impact just yet."
Alta’s Kramer Morton finished the race in an impressive 15:08.04 to win the boys’ varsity race. Chuk Mitchell finished second, while Ricky Faure of Rock Springs, Wyo., was third. Herriman won the boys’ varsity overall, while Riverton and Rock Springs finished second and third, respectively.
Wyant said now that the Park City Invitational has established itself as a top event, he’d like to help it grow to become a staple of high school cross-country in the Western United States.
"We like the idea that, with Park City being a running town, it is now hosting a really popular running race at the high school level," he said. "The city may want us to not increase the capacity of this anymore, though.
"Ideally, I’d like to get it to the point where we can get teams to come here and stay here; to go out to dinner and stay because I think the town does have that draw that can draw teams from all over the West."
The Region 10 meet is slated for next week at the Cottonwood Complex in Salt Lake City, while the 3A state meet looms on Wednesday, Oct. 17. Wyant said his girls’ squad, which is ranked nationally my MileSplit.com, is ready to go to work.
"I think they’re starting to see the payoff from what all they’ve done over the summer," he said. "It seems like they’re getting pretty serious about it."
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