Park City High School cross country takes sixth at home | ParkRecord.com

Park City High School cross country takes sixth at home

Cross country teams prepare for tough regionals

The Park City High School cross country team hosted its ninth annual Park City Meet last Friday, Sept. 29. The massive, 46-team meet drew competitors from around Utah and Wyoming in an event was so large organizers broke it into two sessions: one in the morning and one in the evening. The Miners raced in the evening, when the girls placed sixth out of 17 teams and the boys placed 16th out of 20.

"I thought the girls ran fantastic today," head coach Steve Cuttitta said. "We have four girls that averaged about 20 minutes, which on our course is a really quick time."

Sophomore Sydney Lapine was Park City's top finisher with a time of 19 minutes, 40.2 seconds, earning 12th. She was followed by Liza Greene in 21st with a time of 20:06.2, then Daisy Townshend in 24th with a 20:11.3 time.

"It was pretty good, I didn't run as fast as I thought," Townshend said. "It's a hard course."

The 5-kilometer loop ran into Round Valley and returned to the soccer fields at the Park City Sport Complex. Townshend said the course was gradually uphill for the first mile, then undulating in the second mile and downhill in the third.

"It felt like a good race," Townshend said. "We were competitive; we were moving up throughout the race from the first mile."

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Behind Townshend, Samantha Herman finished in 28th with in 20:15. Then, later, Mackenna Doilney took 68th with a 21:19.9 time and Stephanie Burnham finished in 70th place in 21:20.3.

Doilney and Burnham both play soccer in addition to running cross country. Cuttitta said the pair had games two days before the meet, then another the day after, which didn't help their times.

"They were not at 100 percent and they could certainly run a little bit faster, but that bodes well for the end of the season knowing that we have Mackenna in our back pocket that can run faster," he said. "Packs win cross country races, and with Mackenna in that pack, we are going to be tough to beat."

On the boys side, junior Nick Burnz, who took 57th, was the team's top finisher with a time of 16:59.3.

"It was alright, we ran our best," Burnz said, adding that knowing that his teammates were watching helped push him.

In particular, Jackson Parker, an influential senior who has struggled with injury, helped motivate Burnz.

"He walked up to me today and said, 'You should win this race,'" Burnz said. "He's probably the No. 3 runner on the team and those were the eyes I felt the most."

Parker finished in 123rd with a time of 18:23.6, just behind sophomore Reese McGrath in 118th with a 18:16.7 time.

Burnz said the team was in a tough spot this season after losing two strong runners at the beginning of the season—one who transferred to Wasatch and another who injured his back.

Cuttitta said this team's perennial challenge has been living up to expectations. With a history of success in the state championships, each year puts pressure on the team, though this year is particularly tough because the team moved from Class 3A to 4A, ostensibly pitting them against schools with larger student bodies.

"On the whole I think we've done well," Cuttita said. "We didn't start out fast but I think we're coming on at the right time. Just kind of believing in the system and believing you're going to improve is always a challenge for a 15-, 16-, 17-year-old. But they've handled it well, this group's been great, honestly."

With only 12 days between the Park City meet and Region 11 championships, Cuttitta said the team would pack in three workouts, then take a couple days off before regions, where he said the girls team will be competing for the championship and the boys will be shooting for a top-four finish and a place at state.

"It's not about what (our opponents) run," Cuttitta said. "If we run our best time and they beat us, so be it. It's not a basketball game, we don't have a strategy against them; we just have to run our best race."

Region 11 championships will be held at the Cottonwood Regional Softball Complex in Holladay on Oct. 11. State will be on Oct. 18 at the Sugar House Park and Highland High School in Salt Lake City.