Ben Saarel dominates national meet |

Ben Saarel dominates national meet

Ben Saarel, shown here competing at a meet in 2012, set the Arcadia Invitational meet record in the 3200, finishing in eight minutes, 45.74 seconds. He retained his No. 1 ranking nationally with the victory. Tyler Cobb/The Park Record.

Last week, six Park City High School track athletes left for California, ready to compete at the Arcadia Invitational, a prestigious track meet that only the best high school athletes in the country are invited to attend.

The Miners left the meet with one runner ranked No. 1 in the country and two more runners breaking school records.

Senior Ben Saarel stole the show, defending his top national ranking in the 3200-meter race, finishing in an Arcadia Invitational record-setting time of eight minutes, 45.74 seconds.

He also beat defending national champion Bernie Montoya of Arizona, who finished 1.4 seconds behind Saarel.

Park City coach Jeff Wyant said winning at Arcadia against the top track athletes in the country cemented Saarel’s dominance.

"It doesn’t mean much having the fastest time until you bring (all the nation’s top runners) together and see who wins," he said.

Now, Saarel will focus on setting the Utah state record, since only times set within the state borders count.

Wyant added that the performance from the girls was equally amazing.

Senior Ali Walker and sophomore Alyssa Snyder also broke school records, both besting the previous PCHS record in the 3200. Walker ran it in 10:41, with Snyder close behind with a time of 10:47.

Junior Maddie Criscione finished in 10:59, good for fourth place in school history.

"We’ve only had one girl ever break the 11:00 mark until this year," Wyant said. "Now we’ve had three do it this year."

Wyant said he was confident going in that the Park City runners would make an excellent showing at the national meet.

"We didn’t want to verbalize it and put too much pressure on them," he said. "But we knew these things were going to happen."

Now the team will focus on tuning up for another meet in California in two weeks. Saarel and his teammates will run at the Mt. Sac Invitational on April 19 and 20.

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