Park City cross-country teams continue to gain speed through Region 11 finals
The Park City cross-country team continued to cut time while competing in the Region 11 championships at the Larry Miller Regional Softball Complex in Millcreek on Wednesday. The Miners finished third in both divisions, scoring 68 points in each. In the girls’ competition, the Miners finished behind second-place Stansbury (64) and first-place Ogden (23), while the boys finished behind Bonneville (55) and Stansbury (45).
Freshman Elena Grissom was the girls team’s fastest Miner, crossing the finish line in 18 minutes and 39 seconds for fourth-place overall. Sophomore Samantha Herman was close behind, taking seventh overall with a time of 18:52.8 out of 43 competitors.
Sophomore Jillian Perry and junior Sydney LaPine finished in 14th and 16th with times of 19:23.6 and 19:29.1 respectively. In 27th, sophomore Josie Marshall finished in 20:27.7 and sophomore Shelby Oraskovich finished in 20:46.5 for 29th. Sophomore Ellie Anderson was the last to finish for the varsity team, taking 33rd for the Miners with a time of 21:09.4.
Coach Steve Cuttitta said that, for the girls team, the meet was a highlight across the board.
“Those four in the top 16 kind of set us up for a good day, and even Josie and Shelby and Ellie, they all ran (personal records) as well,” Cuttitta said. “All in all, in the varsity, everyone ran a PR, and some of them by a minute, some by 40 seconds.”
Weather conditions were overcast with little wind and a high of 50 degrees – which Cutttitta said was ideal. If the girls team continues to improve the way they have in the past few weeks, Cuttitta said the Miners could surpass their closer competitors, like Stansbury.
“They are certainly in our sights and certainly beatable,” Cuttitta said of the Stallions.
With LaPine back running her first race after spending the regular season recovering from a stress fracture, and Perry recovering from shin splints, Cuttitta anticipates the team will continue to improve when it competes at the state championship at Sugar House Park on Wednesday.
“I think we can be very optimistic about running even better next week, which puts us in the mix to be a top eight, if not top five, team,” Cuttitta said.
On the boys side, junior Kaleb Barnhart placed sixth overall what Cuttitta called “a breakthrough race.” The coach isn’t surprised by Barnhart’s 15:47.5 time, however.
“I’m not going to say it was a surprise to see Caleb run well,” Cuttitta said. “It was kind of inevitable that it was going to happen. … The fitness was there.”
Junior Reese McGrath finished 10th overall and took second among the Miners with a time of 15:57.6, which Cuttitta said was the best time of McGrath’s season.
He greatly outpaced his performance in his last race, when McGrath led the team at Park City’s Sept. 28 home meet with a 16:47.2 finish.
Senior Scott McMullin finished in 16th overall and third for the Miners with a time of 16:10.7, with sophomore Bennett Diamond just behind him at17th overall with a time of 16:17.6.
Freshman Wes Campbell finished fifth for the Miners with a time of 16:32.8, taking 21st overall. Junior Sheldon Vanover took 24th overall with a time of 16:46.5, and sophomore Shane Hilton finished in 30th with a time of 17:10.1.
Cuttitta said Diamond made the biggest leap out of the team in the race after finishing at 17:39.3 at the Park City meet.
“Our strength is our group,” Cuttitta said. “We’ve got (Barnhart and McGrath), but it’s not like our other guys are so far behind. They are 20, 25 seconds back, so we’re competitive.”
He contrasted the team’s depth to Bonneville, which had three runners in the top five, but also had three runners in the bottom 10. Those runners’ stats could fall off in the rankings among the state championship’s deeper field.
“If we can continue the improvement curve for next week, the sky is the limit,” Cuttitta said. “I don’t think (the boys team) will be afraid of the moment. They tend to rise to the occasion as the races get bigger and faster.”
Cuttitta said the regional was a good example of how far the team has come and how it performs under pressure. The boys team beat Ogden for the first time in years.
“We beat them by 13 points,” Cuttitta said of snapping that losing streak. “That shows you the kind of swing we’ve had.”
The Park City High School girls varsity cross-country team will race at 1 p.m. and the boys will race at 2:30 p.m. at Sugar House Park on Wednesday in the UHSAA Class 4A state championship meet.
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Jones is coming off a season where she was named U.S. Ski Jumping Athlete of the Year