Park City cross-country squad eyes strong season
The Park City Miners hosted Region 11’s first cross-country race of the season at the Quinn’s Junction Trailhead on Thursday. Coach Steve Cuttitta said both the boys and girls teams have been coming along well, and have progressed greatly over the summer. However, two of the girls team’s top runners, senior Camille Brieholz and junior Sydney LaPine, sustained stress fractures over the summer and it is unclear when they will be able to race again.
“It’s just hard to say if we will get them back and how they will be,” Cuttitta said.
Underclassmen take over
With two of last year’s Class 4A state runners in Brieholz and LaPine, Cuttitta said there’s a big opportunity for underclassmen to step up.
On Thursday, they did.
Sophomore Jillian Perry took third out of 70 racers from Bonneville, Ogden, Juan Diego and Tooele, while freshman Elena Grissom took eighth.
The race was their first with the Miners high school team.
“I had no expectation of (Grissom) being near the front, and she was our second runner,” Cuttitta said.
Perry, who finished Thursday’s race with a time of 20:11.8, competed as a distance swimmer last season, but decided to give cross-country a try.
So far, she said being a part of the team has been fun, and though she’s participated in recreational runs, she is still getting to know the sport.
“I’m not used to doing so many hills,” she said after finishing the race. “I don’t have as much practice with that, so that was a little hard.”
She said her plan for this season is to improve and see how much better she can do, though she hasn’t set any specific goals.
“Yeah, I mean, I don’t know much about it yet,” she said of the sport.
Grissom crossed the finish line on Thursday with a time of 21:53, placing eighth. She said she also has no expectations other than to see her times drop throughout the season.
As a ninth-grader, Grissom still goes to Treasure Mountain Junior High, but, like Perry, she said the cross-country team has been supportive.
Grissom was followed by sophomore Samantha Herman, who finished 10th with a time of 22:05.7, and Stephanie Burnham, who finished 12th with a time of 22:26.4.
Cuttitta said those four runners would likely make up the leading pack, though sophomores Ellie Anderson, Josie Marshall and Shelby Oraskovich also had good performances. They finished 15th, 17th and 23rd respectively.
Training pays off
The boys team, untouched by injuries, is already off to a good start, according to Cuttitta.
“They are much improved from last year,” he said. “We got most people back who ran at state, and Reese (McGrath), who finished third today, had a huge track season and really is coming along.”
McGrath, a junior, finished with a time of 17:05.5, finishing third behind Jorge Vasquez of Bonneville with a time of 16:26.9 and Chris Allred of Ogden who took second with a time of 16:31.0.
“This is the fastest team that I have ever been here for,” McGrath said after the race. “We actually have a competitive team now instead of one or two people that can run decently fast.”
The team is currently led by McGrath, senior Scott McMullin, who took ninth with a time of 18:02.4, junior Sheldon Vanover, who took 11th with a time of 18:05, sophomore Kaleb Barnhart, who took 13th with a time of 18:19, and sophomore Bennett Diamond, who finished 17th with a time of 18:27.
Cuttitta and McGrath said the team’s strength is a result of a greater level of dedication to the team and th sport.
“I’m not really sure what’s happened,” McGrath said. “A lot of people have started caring more and a bunch of new people joined who seem to really enjoy the sport so we have a good team.”
Cuttitta hasn’t given the team any specific goals as far as state or region performance, but said he is looking forward to seeing what more they can do.
“Honestly, it’s a huge improvement from last year already in the boys,” he said. “And I’ve told them, ‘just make individual improvements every race and we’ll see where we end up.’”
The Miners will get a sense of where they stand among their peers on Sept. 5, when the team will compete at the Cottonwood Complex in Salt Lake against most Region 11 teams.
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Facing a region opponent early on was not ideal for Park City head coach Micaela Carriel, especially considering her girls had just moved up to 5A Region 8 after spending last season in 4A.