Summit County aims high at state meet | ParkRecord.com

Summit County aims high at state meet

by Tracie Fails, of the Record staff

The Utah high school state track championships featured hard-fought victories, surprise upsets and a number personal bests for Summit County athletes, who competed in temperatures nearing 90 degrees May 18-19 at Brigham Young University in Provo.

The North Summit boys fared best, placing second, while the girls took sixth in the class 2A division.

South Summit’s boys took ninth and the girls tied for seventh in 2A. Park City fought through hard knocks and unexpected competition to place eighth on both sides, failing to repeat last year’s top-three finishes as the Miners had hoped. But, of all participants in the event, the Dairy Queen across from BYU’s track and field stadium may have taken the cake, serving more ice cream than a single store could seem to hold. The runners appreciated its convenience but many said they could have done without the heat.

"It’s so hot, my legs just felt like rubber," South Summit junior Whitney McCormick said after completing her leg in the third-place 4×400-meter relay in the late afternoon.

Class 2A Championships

The heat didn’t seem to bother the North Summit team, however. The Braves ran without fear, taking races out early and coming from behind to grab points in nearly every event of the meet.

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"I told them a little story the day before the meet started," head coach David Peck said. "I said you have to take all those, ‘I can’t do its’ and bury them. They seem to have listened. They really pulled through and ran some great races."

The boys’ team repeated its runner-up finish from last year on the power of diversity and youth. Led largely by freshmen and sophomores, the Braves scored in nearly every event they entered. Twice they put three purple uniforms on the podium in one contest. Junior Nathaniel Richins led the 300-meter hudles with sophomore Casey Staley and freshmen Aaron Beenfield taking fourth and fifth. Freshmen cousins Wyatt and Gavin Richins, took second and fourth respectively in the pole vault, joined third-place Staley to nearly sweep the event.

Nathaniel Richins said he was excited to have won the hurdle race after a shaky start.

"I didn’t get over the first couple hurdles as smoothly as I wanted to, but after that it was good to the end." He said he knew his teammates would be close behind.

Staley, who also grabbed a point for his eight- place finish in the 110-meter hurdles, said it helped having Richins ahead of him.

"It was cool to run with teammates in the race," he said. "I just focused on our lead guy [Nathaniel] and tried to keep up."

The Braves’ freshmen lead continued with Taylor Bates in the sprints and Whit Jones in the throws. Bates entered a rare triple for a freshman, wining the 400-meter dash and taking third in the 100 and 200-meters. Jones tossed his way to a third-place discus finish and sixth in the shot put.

North Summit’s girls finished sixth in a rare team effort for track, scoring more than half their points from relays. The Braves enjoyed wins from the 4×100 and 4×400-meter races and grabbed a fourth place finish in the sprint medley. Each relay set personal bests, a feat that made Peck particularly proud.

"That’s as important at the end of the season as the place," he said. "Not everyone knows when you set a personal record, but it’s really great to see as a coach."

Also competing in 2A were the South Summit Wildcats, led by juniors Sarah Lambert and Cammeron Batty. Lambert took second in the 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles and 400-meter dash. Their 4×400-meter relay team also ended the day on a high note, finishing third. Batty led the boys with two third-place finishes in the hurdle events, while senior Jon Latham chipped in with a sixth-place finish in the high jump.

Class 3A Championships

Park City teams placed eighth in class 3A after injury and missed opportunities dashed their hopes to repeat last year’s top-three finishes.

Juniors Matt Wright and Brent Ryberg led the boys, scoring 20 points between their individual events. Ryberg entered the meet with the state’s fastest 800-meter time at 1:56.77 but met surprise competition from Emory’s Tyler Killpack, a sophomore who had never broken two minutes before the state meet. Killpack and Ryberg followed Cedar City’s Josh Gardner until the final 150 meters, when they broke away, heading neck-and-neck to the line. The victory was unclear, even as the finish drew closer.

"Brent’s got him doesn’t he?" a fan said as the pair crossed the finish.

But the scoreboard flashed Killpack’s name first, showing a time of 1:57.08. He edged Ryberg by a hundredth of a second.

Head co-coach Steve Candall said Killpack’s speed as a sprinter might have foretold the performance.

"He’s a 400-meter runner, so we knew he could kick. I just told Brent that he couldn’t feel too bad since what [Killpack] did was pretty remarkable. To win, he had to pass the winners of the 3200 and 400-meters, plus the kid with the fastest 800 time in the state."

Ryberg, who finished fifth in the 400-meter race hours before his main event, was one of just two athletes to attempt the closely timed double. He also ran an impressive 1:55 split in the 1600-meter sprint medly relay on Friday, helping teammates Jared Pursell, Steven Ryberg and Erik Walker achieve the fastest time of any division at 3:31:59.

Aaron Archer and Prescott McCarthy joined Ryberg in the 800-meter race, finishing 12th and 17th respectively. McCarthy, who ran three distance events, said he was glad to compete at all after suffering a head injury from a skating accident in early April.

"I was happy with my 3200," he said of his sixth-place. "I was just thinking I had to go fast enough to score some points."

Crandall said he was surprised at how well McCarthy performed having lost most of his training after the accident. "He wasn’t able to run at all for weeks," he said.

The Miners lost a runner in his place, however, when senior Jared Purcell pulled up with a hurt ankle on Saturday. Purcell had run the 400 leg in the sprint medley on Friday but felt unable to compete after warming up for the long jump the next day.

"It’s a tough way to end your career, " Crandall said. "I feel worse for him personally than for the team." Purcell, who was seeded third in three events, might have improved the team’s overall score, but Crandall said he pleased with the team’s performance anyway. "We’re not disappointed," he said. "I’m proud of the guys."

A final highlight for the boys ended on the field, an unlikely place for Park City to have excelled this year. Construction has prevented the Miners from practicing any field event at home, forcing jumpers and throwers to drive to other facilities on their own or to squeeze in extra practice at away meets. Nevertheless, junior Matt Wright finished second in the javelin with a mark of 173 feet, 2 inches a personal best by seven feet.

Crandall said he was excited to see what Wright could do next year with consistent training.

"It’ll be good to see what a lot of the guys do next year. Most are coming back," he said.

The girls also featured a young team that will return many of its leading scorers.

Freshman Gillian Gorelick tripled in the 3200, 1600 and 800-meter races, scoring in the two longer events. Sophomore Elizabeth Guiney joined her to add a point at 1600 meters before running side-by-side with her teammate in the 800-meter race. Co-coach Jeff Wyant said the young duo impressed him with their stamina.

"It’s hard to double up events, especially for young athletes. Gillian and Elizabeth did a great job lasting through the meet," he said.

The Miners will miss senior Elli Reed, however, who contributed a second-place effort at 400-meters and ran on all three scoring relays. Reed, who will play soccer next year at the University of Portland, said balancing track and soccer was difficult.

"It’s been hard going back and forth between practices," she said.

Distance coach Jeff Wyant agreed that soccer impacted Reed’s track performance, saying it was also a reason the former distance champion ran shorter racers her senior year. "Elli was committed to soccer this year, so it was hard to get her trained for longer events than the 400," he said. Still, Reed’s 57.64 was a personal best and contributed eight points to the team’s score.

The Miners are now done for the season, except for Ryberg, who will join the 800-meter race on June 2 at the Great Southwest Invitational in New Mexico.