Miners track team’s numbers nearly double
March 8, 2018
Spring sports teams gathered for Sports Media Day at Park City High School on Saturday for team pictures. Track was the last and largest team to come in, and what started with a handful of athletes milling around the wrestling room — fully equipped with lights and a green screen — turned into a mob of red and white. This year, the team has approximately 130 athletes, making it one of PCHS's largest in recent memory.
"It's a little ridiculous, especially trying to get into the weight room or warming up for anything," said senior throwing athlete Joe Graf. "It's a new experience, but it's great to have this many kids out, and this much raw talent that we can work with."
Last year, Graf said, the team started with around 70 to 80 people, then settled to maybe 65 dedicated athletes toward the end of the season. With a small senior class this year, he said the underclassmen are a welcome addition to the team.
"Usually there will be 20 to 30 freshman that will come in, and I think freshmen make up 40-50 percent of the team right now," Graf said. "They just showed up in droves; they are making a huge chunk of the team."
Graf attributed the influx to coaches David Yocum and Steve Cuttitta actively recruiting underclassmen from the school's physical education classes, but Yocum said it had more to do with the underclassmen's attitude.
"I think they're just driven," he said. "It's a different mentality than what we've had in the past. They just really, really enjoy competing."
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In particular, Yocum said the team has a strong contingent of 400-meter runners, which he considers a bellwether for teams.
"The 400 is where I like to look at us," he said, explaining that if he can train athletes to be competitive in the 400, they can easily transfer over to shorter distances — which is his focus as a coach, while Cuttitta trains for distance.
"We're going to be really deep in the 4 this year, in both boys and girls," Yocum said.
According to Graf and senior Mikelle Losee, the team's relays will also be very competitive — the 4×100 in particular. Neither of the relay teams have been determined yet, but Losee said both will set their sights on the school record — 43.49 seconds for boys and 50.21 seconds for girls.
Losee said the 4×100 team will likely comprise a combination of the following athletes: Victor Casarrubias, Grant Warner, AJ Adrian, Paul Banes, and Luke Hatch — a senior who is competing in track for the first time, but has already established himself as one of the team's fastest sprinters.
On the girls' side, the team will likely include Losee, Haley Mackey, Grace Dalton and Maddie Smith, though Losee said there were other contenders as well.
Yocum said athletes will be stepping up to fill the shoes of Claire Rogers — a state finalist it the 100-meter dash last year, and Shea Henderson, who he said will compete solely in lacrosse this season. The male athletes will try to fill the vacuum left by Connor Laurence, who ran 11.3 in the 100, 22.5 in the 200 and 50 flat in the 400, according to Yocum.
"He was hard to replace," Yocum said. "But I think we have people coming in to help us out, so I don't think we're really going to drop off."
However, with the team bumping up to Class 4A, they will have to improve their times to qualify for state.
"Last year, for boys' 100, it took 11.5 (seconds) to get in, now its 11.38," Yocum said. "Same with the 2, same with the 4 — it's just a little bit faster."
Still, Yocum said the team should be competitive, with both sides finishing in the top three in region as they face teams like Stansbury and Ogden, which Yocum said will be tough.
The Miners will travel to St. George this weekend for the team's first invitational of the season.
Miners’ massive track team is one of the biggest the school has seen
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