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Track starts with successful early season

Anchored by a strong core of distance runners, Park City’s track team has kicked off with a promising start in the first month of competition, with three athletes already hitting state qualifying marks and a healthy number of newcomers promising depth. The team still has some early-season developing to do, having entered incomplete teams in every meet so far, but coach Steve Crandall said he thinks that once each team congeals, both boys and girls have a chance of winning the 3A state title.

"I think we can run with any team in the state," Crandall said. "Especially our boys. The girls just have as much talent, but the boys have a little more depth. And each side is returning high point scorers." Crandall said he doesn’t remember what place the team came in last year, but that past performance doesn’t matter to him. "I think we were in the top five for both boys and girls, but I know we’re better this year," he said.

The Miners will enjoy their greatest advantage in the distance events, fueled by runners from the girls’ state champion cross-country team and the boys’ runner-up squad. The girls, who took four of the top 10 places in cross-country, will look to senior Elli Reed, junior Rosie Brennan, and sophomores Elizabeth Guiney and Lia Margolis for points in the 800 meter through the two-mile.

The boys will rely on senior Prescott McCarthy and junior Brent Ryburn to go the distance for the Miners. McCarthy, who placed second in last year’s state two-mile race, has already hit the 3A qualifying mark this year, clocking 9:56 at the Carbon Invite on March 17. Ryburn, who finished third in the 800 meter last year as a mid-distance rookie, qualified for state with an impressive 1:57. Crandall said the former sprinter will benefit this year from his first fall season of cross-country.

Also qualifying for state at Carbon was long jumper Jared Purcell, who leaped 20 feet 8 inches. Crandall said he hopes to develop more field athletes as well as the season progresses.

"Right now, we’re still trying to fill out all the events," he said. Crandall is still experimenting to find the best fit for new athletes, while determining whether any sprinters or field athletes will emerge to round out Park City’s heavy distance crew. He said the prospects are good for fast sprinters. Among the freshmen, Eric Walker and Nancy Schneider have performed particularly well, Crandall said. Reed has also proven herself capable of dropping to the 200-meter dash when needed, and her leadership will help to bring along the younger runners.

The Miners will get their first chance to test themselves as a team on April 7 at the Central Utah Invite. Crandall said a select group will still go rather than the whole team, but enough athletes will compete to get an idea of how they stack up against other teams. The state tournament will begin a month later with the regional meet, running May 9-10 at Morgan.


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