A strong group of returners are ready to lead Park City to a state championship in lacrosse
When Michael Persky took over the Park City High School boys lacrosse team last fall, he already knew what kind of group he was inheriting.
The Miners are not only the reigning state champions of the Utah High School Lacrosse League, they return senior all-American Dylan Bauer to lead their attack. Fellow seniors Andrew Pederson, Brady Baumann and Luke McCall are the returning first-team all-staters who thrive on defense while senior Sam Levine and junior Tyler Vendetti are returning honorable mention all-state performers.
“I’m really excited for this season. … To have inherited this group of kids who have already have tremendous success on and off the field is special,” Persky said. “I can’t take for how the kids got here. … They just know how to win and compete. There’s so much upside in these kids and as far as they’ve come already, I know there’s still so much more to go for them.”
With so much talent coming back to the team, the pressure is on for Park City if it wants to repeat as state champions — but this time as a UHSAA-sanctioned sport.
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One of the things Persky is trying to implement this season is building the program from the ground-up — which is why the varsity program is often practicing not only with, but also against the junior varsity program. It’s part of a philosophy that Persky believes in that will help both squads.
He’s constantly telling the boys that they can’t always count on being the biggest, fastest and strongest team on the field, so they must be willing to adapt to what’s on the field to find ways to win.
“In practice, I tell the varsity that they can’t just run the JV players over, they have to figure out how to beat them in other ways,” Persky said. “At first the varsity guys didn’t understand why we are practicing against the JV, but they not only get it, they embrace it and it’s helped a lot.”
It was an adjustment for the varsity team at first, as the Miners are used to being the biggest, strongest and fastest team on the field. But this new philosophy has really taken hold as the Miners began the season on Monday with a 22-2 victory over Timpanogos.
“We are truly focused on playing the best lacrosse we can play. … We are doing the best we can when out on the field,” Persky said. “There’s a strong emphasis on doing the right things fundamentally as individuals, because that drives us as a team. We aren’t where we want to be yet, but we are making progress.”
Park City has 15 games remaining in the regular season, and while wins are important to Persky and the Miners, the whole season is more of a building process to the final game of the season, which they hope to be playing in.
“If we take care of the details, the games will take care of themselves,” Persky said. “It’s not good enough to be as good as we were last year, we have to work harder and be better. In the end, there’s only one game that counts and we got to get there.”
While every game is important, there are two games that stand out above the rest.
In two and a half weeks, Park City will travel to Colorado to face Cherry Creek and Valor Christian — the top two teams in the state from last year which both finished ranked in the top-100 of the national rankings. Cherry Creek is currently ranked No. 2 in the West Region.
“Last year we got spanked by Cherry Creek (1-15) but played really tough against Valor Christian (8-12). … Both of those teams are run like college programs,” Persky said. “We talk about what happened last year a little bit. … And we need to and we will be better. The kids are ready for it.”
Regardless of how those games turn out, the Miners have larger goals in mind, with nothing topping winning a state championship.
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It’s going to be at least another month before Summit County’s high school athletes have any chance of getting onto the field again.