Park City cross-country regroups after taking 10th, 13th at state finals
The Park City High School cross-country team finished its season last Wednesday when the girls team took 10th and the boys team took 13th out of 16 teams at the Class 4A state meet at Sugar House Park. The results were not quite what the team was hoping for, with injuries and a tight competitive field keeping the Miners from higher positions at the Salt Lake City meet, coach Steve Cuttitta said.
In the girls’ three-mile competition, freshman Elena Grissom led the Miners in 26th place with a time of 19:36.
She was followed by sophomore Samantha Herman in 38th with a time of 20:01.9; junior Mackenna Doilney in 55th (20:25.9); junior Sydney LaPine in 68th (20:54.9), sophomore Josie Marshall in 93rd (21:38.9) and sophomore Ellie Anderson in 110th (22:30.3).
The Miners’ top five girls combined for a score of 258.
Coach Steve Cuttitta said the team ran well, but the final race was reflective of the team’s nagging health issues.
Standout sophomore runner Gillian Perry was unable to run after continued shin issues, including a possible stress fracture, Cuttitta said. Perry was determined unable to race at the starting line.
“For our team score, that made a big difference,” he said. “She’s been No. 1 for most of the year and certainly would have been in our top five. She had a great season. … She was limping and not looking too good, so we pulled her out.”
Cuttitta said Doilney and LaPine both had great races, especially considering that Doilney joined the team later in the season after recovering from a lingering injury from the summer, and LaPine came back from a stress fracture in time for the Region 11 finals on Oct. 5.
“For (LaPine) to break 21 minutes, and finish 68th; I know it wasn’t what she wanted out of the season, but it showed a lot of grit and determination just to come back and race relatively well,” Cuttitta said. “She’s just a junior, so next year she has a lot to look forward to.”
Cuttitta said Marshall also did well to help fill in after Perry’s absence, putting in one of her best races of the season. It also allowed Anderson to get some valuable experience at the state level.
“Coming back, I told them after the meet that maybe this year we didn’t quite put it all together – we had some injuries, we had people coming back – but if that group can stay together and train for next year, all seven are back,” Cuttitta said.
He also pointed out that just four points separated eighth place from fourth in the state meet.
“I think they got a taste of what could be,” he said of his team. “And it will just be a matter of staying healthy and putting it together for next year, and I think they are motivated for it.”
The team’s 13th place overall finish was not what it was hoping for, but it was still an improvement over last season when the team finished in 16th.
On Wednesday, junior Reese McGrath led the Miners in the boys’ three-mile race with a time of 16:50, finishing 51st, with junior Kaleb Barnhart close behind in 52nd (16:51.3).
They were followed by senior Scott McMullin in 73rd (17:12.8), freshman Wes Campbell in 83rd (17:21.0), sophomore Bennett Diamond in 85th (17:22.3), junior Sheldon Vanover in 104th (17:49.8) and sophomore Shane Hilton in 117th (18:32.3).
Cuttitta said McGrath started off determined to stay with the frontrunners, but the top 25 racers (out of 124) started to pull away after the first mile.
“It was maybe too bold,” Cuttitta said. “He tried to hang on. He didn’t quite have it, but he finished in 16:50, and Caleb was right behind at 16:51. Those are really solid times.”
He said the rest of the team’s top five (the ones which are scored) did a good job of staying in a relatively close pack. The team had a total score of 306.
“If the whole group was 20 seconds faster, we end up taking off something like 100 points just in that 20 seconds,” Cuttitta said, remarking on how close the competition was.
So he asked the team, which is composed largely of underclassmen, what it would take to average 16:50 instead of 17:10.
“That would make a big difference,” he said. “We would be scoring more in the 150 to 175 range, which is what the top five and six teams are.”
With so few runners graduating on both the boys and girls teams, Cuttitta said the Miners should be gearing up for a stronger season next year.
“Congrats on the good season,” he said, addressing his runners during a phone interview. “We look forward to next year when we’ll try and run a little faster.”
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