Park City cross-country teams cap season with solid showing at state championships
Coming into the Class 5A state championships, the Park City boys and girls cross-country teams each had certain goals they wanted to accomplish. With each competition featuring nationally ranked teams, the Miners were focused more on smaller goals than winning the state title.
For the boys, the main objective was to take down Region 8 foe Springville, a team the Miners have struggled with and had yet to beat. On the girls side, it was all about running hard and continuing to peak at the right time with a young squad.
“To start the season with the girls, I had no idea if we were even a top 10 team in the state, but as the season went on I thought we had a chance to be good,” said coach Steve Cuttitta. “On the boys, we had two nationally ranked teams against us so our focus was peaking at the right time to take down Springville. Altogether, it was about trying to run our races in a smart manner and just accept where it all fell together.”
The Park City boys took seventh place, finishing with 248 points at Wednesday’s championships, held at Sugar House Park in Salt Lake City. Senior Reese McGrath earned third-team all-state honors, finishing in 19th with a time of 16 minutes and 12.4 seconds.
On the girls side, the Miners followed up their strong showing in the Region 8 championships with a fourth-place finish, racking up 156 points. Sophomore Elena Grissom (19:13.6) and freshman Ava Coccaro (19:14.6) each took home second-team all-state honors, finishing 13th and 14th overall.
Boys take down Springville
After taking second place in the Region 8 championships, Park City entered the state championships running well. Looking for a solid showing at the competition, Cuttitta made a change to his training method aimed at helping the team peak at just the right time — and it paid off.
“We knew we wanted to take down Springville so that really shows a lot about how well we tapered and focused on the end of season,” Cuttitta said. “We knew going into region that we were probably going to state, and although it would’ve been fun to win the region, we’d much rather have a better finish at state. Before the region meet, we knew it wasn’t the end and merely a stepping stone to where we wanted to get.”
The boys did exactly what they set out to do, blasting Springville by 33 points, with each Miner runner beating their counterpart on the Springville squad.
Sophomore Wes Campbell was Park City’s next best finisher after McGrath, racing to 38th place in 16:30.7. Senior Kaleb Barnhart (51, 16:38.0), junior Bennett Diamond (81, 16:53.4) and junior Shane Hilton (89, 17:03.3) all scored for the Miners.
“After finishing in 14th last year at the 4A state race, to take home seventh this year (in 5A) is a huge accomplishment and I couldn’t be prouder of them,” Cuttitta said. “Maybe next year we are ready to step up with the core guys coming back. … They have now been through the ringer and been through the wars, so they should be excited for next year.”
Girls show promise
It was a truly team effort for the Park City girls as the Miners used a deep team to place fourth in the state meet.
Entering the season, Cuttitta wasn’t exactly sure what sort of team he had because of the inexperience on the roster. Blessed with just two seniors in Mackenna Doilney and Sydney LaPine, Cuttitta knew he was going to have to rely on young runners. As it turned out, they stepped up in a big way.
“With our fourth-place finish, we honestly couldn’t be more ecstatic about it,” Cuttitta said. “We really ran great all the way down the line. … To have our top three finishers all finish under 20 minutes, and being led by two underclassmen, that’s big for us as a whole.”
The state race may turn out to be more of a stepping stone and learning experience for the young Miners, as five of their top seven finishers are all expected to return next year.
Doilney and LaPine finished third and fourth for the Miners, placing 29th and 44th overall, respectively, in times of 19:45.7 and 20:03.7. Freshmen Erika Skylling (68th, 20:37.0) and Lotte DeJager (72nd, 20:39.6) and junior Samantha Herman (87th, 21:00.1) all finished for the Miners as well.
“As the season progressed, and the younger girls got better and better while my seniors stayed solid, I thought we had a chance to be top-5 good but I wasn’t sure,” Cuttitta said. “They really evolved over the final month of the season because they were getting faster and starting to see and believe in that improvement. It definitely bodes well going forward because they know what it’s like now and are ready for what comes next year.”
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Dave Hanscom announced last month he was retiring as volunteer race director of the Wasatch Citizens Series after 30 years in the position.