Dynasty: Braves win four in a row
For North Summit High school juniors Sadie Sargent and Maggie Zwahlen, last year’s finish at the UHSAA 2A cross-country state championships wasn’t enough. Despite taking second and third place respectively, which aided the Braves in winning the 2015 team title, the duo wasn’t satisfied.
After a year of training harder and faster, Sargent, who finished in second in both her freshman and sophomore years, improved her time on the state course at Sugar House Park in Salt Lake City for the third year in a row. Her 17:58.0 mark was enough to break through the threshold and take home the 2A individual state title on Wednesday afternoon.
Thirty-seven seconds later, Zwhalen (18:35.5) came around the bend of the Highland High School track that led to the finish line, solidifying her spot in second place. The North Summit pair secured the rare one-two finish at the state meet, helping their team earn its fourth straight state championship with a score of 57 points. North Sevier followed with 95, while Millard finished in third with 106.
“(Sadie’s) really worked hard,” Head Coach Dave Peck said. “Well, both of them have. Maggie worked really hard this year to ensure that they would finish [in first and second place]. Of course, I think they really wanted to make sure they finished [in that order] this year, so it was quite exciting to see them finish that way.”
Rounding out the top five for North Summit was a trio of seniors, who have now won state titles in all four years of their prep career. Madeline Birk (20:12.5) was aiming for a top-10 finish heading into the race and got just that after squeaking in with a ninth-place finish to make that three Braves in the top 10. Makenzi Crittenden (20:40.0) and Sadie Boyer (22:54.3) finished in 15th and 45th places, respectively.
While it was the juniors who made noise with high finishes, this state championship means a little more for the departing seniors.
“I think it really meant a lot to them to have this fourth title in a row,” Peck said. “This one was really special to kind of cap off their senior year by winning a state championship.”
While the boys’ team couldn’t match the results of their female counterparts, there was still much to celebrate. Individually, North Summit senior Jace Richins defended his state title with a time of 16:13.2, eight seconds faster than his winning time last year. As a team, the Braves finished in third place overall with 93 points, just 10 points behind second place (Emery) and 21 points behind first (Millard).
Although the team will lose Richins to graduation, Peck was elated by the production from the runners that will be returning next season and is excited for the future.
“I just feel really good about this group coming up, these juniors,” Peck said. “I think they are going to be quite motivated for next year. Finishing third for the last two years, I think they’ll really want to put in the effort to try to get first next year.”
Overall, it was a successful day at the state championships for North Summit High School. Between individual and team awards, the team took home three state championships, as well as a number of other high finishes.
So, how did the Braves celebrate? Well, Chuck-A-Rama and a mini-parade, of course.
“What’s really nice is the school just kind of treats us to diner there,” Peck said. “Then our bus ride home, kind of going through town there, we had a little escort with a fire truck and we usually have a meeting in the auditorium with all of the parents. It was really quite exciting.”
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The event was planned as an eight-day, 1,000-mile bike ride from Helsinki, Finland, to Paris, but Blair did the same thing she’s done with everything else in her life: more.