Park City cross-country teams start on right foot

Both squads are coming off fifth-place finishes last year

Pictures of MileSplit Utah’s preseason top 10 teams in the state for both boys and girls cross country are taped end-to-end in Park City coach Steve Cuttitta’s classroom. Neither Park City team was on the list. At the bottom, there’s a caption.

“Who’s next? Today the neighborhood, Tomorrow the world,” it says. 

“We have some high, high expectations, high goals this year, maybe especially on the boys side,” Cuttitta said. “I think, and they think we’re going to be really competitive, so I think it’s good to put some motivation on the walls. … Clearly, we’re not in that top 10, but I think we will be at the end.”

The boys started the season by crossing a team off the list. They finished first at the Park City Twilight meet on Aug. 18, beating out Corner Canyon in a tiebreaker. The Chargers were No. 6 on the list, so a large X appeared on their picture in Cuttitta’s classroom. The girls finished third in their first race of the season. Both teams are coming off fifth-place finishes at the state championship meet last year. 

The boys have plenty of incentive to make this season the best one possible. After last year’s team was mostly juniors, now it’s nearly all seniors, making it feel like a do-or-die season for them. 

“It’s really a now-or-never situation,” senior Truman Hansen said. “We really want to leave on a good note and hopefully inspire underclassmen to join the team and really continue the legacy.

“We know where we finished last year, and we know that if we train hard and what not, we can become one of the higher-ranked teams in the state. Hopefully, get on the podium at state and what not.”

They got off to a great start at home, as five seniors finished in the top 15. Senior Chris Henry led the way by taking first place with a time of 15:21.1. Sophomore Van Talbott’s 15th-place finish broke the tie between the Miners and Corner Canyon for the win. Cuttitta is counting on Henry to be his team’s top runner.

“Chris and I talked in the spring about him being kind of up with that group or maybe just behind the top runners in the state,” he said. “And I think from that first race and just from his training, I think he will be, not behind that group, but with them. It’s really fun to race that way, and it’ll be fun for him to be in that kind of race where you don’t have to think so much about pace and strategy, you just race the guys.”

One of the benefits of the Miners having such an experienced team is they’ve built up plenty of chemistry with each other.

“Over the summer the last two years, it’s gotten super tight, especially as we’ve been training together,” senior Will Fleming said. “It’s gotten pretty rigorous in training and intensity level, so we’re close, and we have high expectations of each other. But we keep it friendly, and we all know what we want, which is a win.”

For the girls, they return three top-50 finishers from last year’s state championship meet in seniors Ava Coccaro and Hailey McGuire and junior Kaylee Hale. Hale feels that this year’s team gets along with each other pretty well.

“We’re all such a tight-knit group, too, so it’s just having that friendship and support,” she said. “We can all kind of push each other and still have each other. So, I think with that in mind, we’re all going to have a good season, I hope.”

Coccaro and McGuire head into their senior season looking to make the most of it. But it also comes with a little bit of pressure.

“I’m excited,” Coccaro said. “It’s a lot of pressure, definitely, because I feel I’m supposed to be the best this year, so that’s a lot of pressure. But I’m really excited. This is the best team, and it’s fun to be kind of a leader on the team.”

The girls have a team that’s more balanced between older, experienced runners and underclassmen who have the potential to step up, which excites McGuire.

“We have a lot of returners from last year, and then we also had a lot of new freshmen come in that are really fast,” she said. “I think we have a really strong varsity and JV team, and it’s exciting to see. And we’ll see as we race more kind of how it will turn out. But I think we definitely could do well.”

Freshman Paige Wagner ran her first varsity race at the Park City Twilight meet and finished 15th. 

“It’s super cool to be running with seniors and juniors because it’s my first year running, so it’s a lot of fun,” Wagner said. “It’s super fun, and I’ve never really raced with a team before. So, it’s a super cool experience, and it definitely makes running a lot easier and more fun.”


Park City’s mountain biking team off to Mantua Saturday

Park City Head Coach Pete Stoughton mentioned how his team will bring their trademark enthusiasm to what should be a relatively-rain soaked course, saying in a prepared statement, “we anticipate radiant smiles on all of our riders faces this weekend.”

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