North Summit High School cross-country team was pushed harder than ever
Boys and girls teams both win state
October 28, 2017
In late July, Dave Peck, head coach of North Summit High School's cross-country team, had a question on his mind: How hard should he push his athletes? With larger schools, Peck speculated, this wasn't much of an issue. You push them to where they need to be, and those who can't hack it fall by the wayside. But for smaller schools, the risk of injury and burnout among a small team can threaten the whole endeavor. Fortunately, this season's team was his biggest yet, with 34 athletes.
The girls team had won the last three Class 2A state championships, but the boys had been through a series of near misses.
The boys took third in 2016 and 2015, and fourth in 2014.
He decided that the hunger he saw in them, particularly in the boys team that was starved for success, deserved the hard truth.
"If you guys want it, we are going to have to work harder," he told his runners early in the season.
Luckily, the team was ready to hear those words. Both the boys and girls teams went on to win the 2A State championship.
"I pushed them a lot more this year than in years past and what happened was, they accepted it," Peck said of the boys team.
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Peck said after three years of being tantalizingly close to winning state, the boys team's varsity seniors (Tayte Staples and Keyan Staples, and Eli Richins) were ready to fully commit themselves to winning.
"I had a group of five or six (boys) that would run together," he said. "I told them if you're going to win this, you have to win together."
So, Peck said, the team started running hard in a group and progressing as a unit. Their times started dropping.
One day, the team ran from Coalville to Henefer for an 11-mile training run. One of the seniors decided he would run an extra two miles to make it a half marathon.
Their commitment showed at the Region 16 championships, where both of North Summit's teams took seven spots in the top 10.
By this time, Peck was fairly sure that junior Cody White was the fastest boy in Class 2A, just as he was about senior Sadie Sargent for the girls.
But state championships were anything but guaranteed.
Peck said in both boys and girls, Millard High School was still a contender.
"I was looking at a race down in Cedar City, and … I was nervous with the girls whether they would be able to pull it out or not," Peck said.
When state rolled around, Millard was a threat, but North Summit was able to stay ahead of them in both the boys and girls races. White finished first overall with a time of 16 minutes, 18.7 seconds. He was followed by Tayte Staples in seventh with a time of 17:28.5, then sophomore Gideon Gren in eighth with a time of 17:30.1 and Seth Bowan in 10th with a time of 17:41.2.
Freshman Boston Sargent took 14th overall with a time of 17:58, Keyan Staples finished 17th with a time of 18:11.3 and Eli Richins in 20th with a time of 18:18.2.
In the girls race, Sadie Sargent finished first overall with a time of 17:31.1 with senior Maggie Zwahlen following in second with a time of 18:34.9.
Freshman Elizabeth Zwahlen took sixth overall with a 19:35 time, then Alecia Smith in 16th with a time of 21:43.3, Sarah Winters in 21st with a22:20.9 time, junior Allie Boyer with a time of 23:33.4 and freshmen Natalie Haufe in 38th with a time of 23:46.9.
"Our fourth and fifth runners were critical," Peck said of the girls team. "I told them to hang with the Millard girls too. I thought they would be our closest competition. Alecia Smith and Sarah Winters had the best race of the year and really came through for us, and the result was the reason we won the state championship for the girls."
For two of the seniors on the girls team it was their fourth consecutive state championship, for all the boys, winning a state championship was totally new.
"We were just thrilled," Peck said. "The last four years the boys have taken just a little bit of a back seat, but boy, when they can both do it together, that is something very, very special."
North Summit won the boys competition with 36 points, while Millard finished second with 64. For the girls, North Summit took first with 36, then Millard with 48.
It was the boys team's first championship in 13 years.
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