Seven Park City track athletes compete in the elite Arcadia Invitational | ParkRecord.com

Seven Park City track athletes compete in the elite Arcadia Invitational

(Tanzi Propst/Park Record)

For seven Park City High School runners, spring break will kick off with a hard run in an unfamiliar environment: California.

The Miners, competing in the girls 4×800-meter relay and medley relay, are in sunny Los Angeles to compete in the prestigious Arcadia Invitational. The meet is an elite event held at Arcadia High School in Arcadia, California, featuring 4,100 of the West's top high school athletes and likely a number of future Olympians.

While Park City's 2017 girls medley crew was invited to the previous edition of the invitational, none of the seven girls invited this year have been to the meet. On Friday, the Miners were scheduled to compete in the 4×800-meter relay and then the medley, a relay that consists of four legs: an 800-meter leg to start, two 200-meter legs in the middle, and a 400-meter leg to finish.

Liza Greene, a senior set to run the 4×800-meter relay and an option to run in the medley afterward, is grateful for the midseason opportunity to perform at a high level alongside her teammates.

"The fact that I get to do it with my closest teammates is really cool, and the fact that I'm leaving this team next year is so hard for me to think about," said Greene, who is committed to run at Hamilton College in New York after she graduates. "The fact that we get to share this experience makes it so special to me."

Sprinters coach David Yocum, who is facilitating the trip to Arcadia, credits freshman sprinter Chloe Shewell with punching Park City's ticket to the invitational. Shewell set a personal record with a time of 2 minutes, 30.17 seconds in the 800-meter at the Pine View Invitational in St. George, which qualified the Miners for the Arcadia Invitational.

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Running in a warmer climate and at a lower elevation will present both benefits and drawbacks for the squad, which is used to training at 7,000 feet in the Wasatch cold. Arcadia receives the mild weather typical of Southern California and only rises to 482 feet in elevation. Haley Maki and Katie Brotherson, juniors who have experience training for relays together, said the Sunshine State's climes will present a new challenge.

"We've been training at altitude all year. … It'll be interesting to see how that affects us," Maki said.

"I've never ran a race at sea level," chimed in Brotherson.

Yocum said runners in the 4×800-meter relay and 800-meter leg of the medley should see an improvement closer to the sea.

"Altitude actually gives you an advantage up until about the 400, after the 400 when you get into the 800 altitude is a detriment," Yocum said of running in Utah. "So the girls running the 800 are actually going to do better from a theoretical standpoint than the girls running the (200-meter) and the (400-meter)."

On the technical end of things, Yocum said keeping runners healthy and perfecting baton handoffs are his top priorities for the team. Greene and junior 4×800-meter runner Bella Criscione are on call to run the medley, depending on who is in better shape after their first event.

As for the trip itself, the team made a 10-hour drive from Park City to Arcadia, passing through St. George and Las Vegas. And while Yocum characterized it as a business trip, the group said they'd try to have some fun along the way and at their destination. A key element to surviving the road trip, they said, was karaoke. They unanimously declared Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl" would be the first song up.

The meet coincides with the start of PCHS' spring break, and some of the athletes said they'd be folding the trip to the invitational into their plans.

Results for the meet were not available at the time of publication. Check parkrecord.com for updates on the team's performance.