PCHS girls win seventh-straight XC title
It certainly wasn’t easy, but by the time the 3A girls’ cross-country state championship meet was over on Wednesday afternoon at Sugar House Park, a familiar team stood atop the standings.
The Park City High School girls’ squad finished with 79 points on Wednesday, a mere seven points ahead of second-place Pine View. But a win is a win, and it just so happened that it was the seventh-straight 3A title for the Miners, extending a streak of dominance on par with the boys’ golf squad.
Park City coach Steve Cuttitta said he was proud of the girls for doing exactly what they set out to do.
"We ended up in first place, so things went how we wanted them to," he said. "It was tight, but we knew it would be tight. We figured Pine View would be the team to beat."
The outcome of the race wasn’t always certain, Cuttitta said, praising a pair of Miners for their outstanding efforts.
"I thought, with half a mile to go, we might be in second place," he said. "But we had some great finishes. Lauren Haynes, who finished third for us, passed three or four runners at the end. Liza Greene [PCHS’s fourth-place finisher] passed three or four, too. I think that was the difference – that last two minutes of the race."
Alyssa Snyder led the way for the Miners, finishing in second place overall with a time of 18 minutes, 23.5 seconds. Kashley Carter of Juab won the overall title with a time of 17:54.0.
Haley Hunt finished second for Park City and sixth overall in 19:08.8. Haynes turned in a time of 19:53.8 and Greene crossed the line in 20:11.9. Leah Lange rounded out the scoring for the Miners with a time of 20:47.8.
Though Snyder finished in second overall, she wasn’t thrilled with the way she ran on Wednesday.
"I wasn’t very happy with it at all," she said. "Coming through about a mile and a half, I don’t know what happened – my legs just stopped working. It was kind of a rough race for me."
Cuttitta quickly waved off Snyder’s unhappiness, saying the Park City squad is lucky to have her as a leader.
"Alyssa’s a top-25 runner, probably, nationally, and she’s going to show that over the next month," he said. "She has Nike Regionals and the Foot Locker Regionals after that. Today wasn’t her best day, and if you can get second on not your best day, that says a lot about you."
Though the Miners have now won seven-straight titles, Cuttitta said this one was a little bit different than the first six after losing several of the team’s top runners from last year’s championship squad.
"This one means a lot," he said. "We lost so much last year that we kind of started from scratch. We had two girls on the team this year that ran state last year. It really was a rebuild and a reload, so this one’s sweet."
Next year’s squad will be missing Snyder, a big loss, but Cuttitta said with how much the younger runners improved this year, he expects Park City to make a run at an eighth-straight title.
"The sky’s the limit at this point," he said. "Four of the girls were in their first year of running, not just here, but they’ve only been running for a few months. Usually, at one year, you get a boost. Haley Hunt is going to be in contention next year for one of the top two or three spots."
In the boys’ title race, the Miners were led by a slew of seniors. Gunnar Stray-Gundersen finished 13th overall in 16:26.8 to lead Park City, with teammate and fellow senior Jesse Case right on his heels in 14th place with a time of 16:27.0.
Travan Thomas finished 17th overall in 16:32.2, Wes Miller crossed the line in 16:58.6 (29th overall) and Sam Edmunds finished 33rd in 17:02.8.
Desert Hills turned in a dominant performance, scoring a stunningly low 22 points to take the title. Stansbury finished in second place with 62 points. Park City managed to finish in the top three with 103 points, narrowly edging Pine View (107 points).
"At the beginning of the season, we talked about how finishing top three would be a great accomplishment," Cuttitta said. "We edged out Pine View at the end there. I thought we ran really tough. Our times may not have shown it, but throughout the whole race, we were at the front part of the group. We were that close to pushing over the edge, but Stansbury and Desert Hills really ran well today."
Cuttitta was impressed with Stray-Gundersen’s effort on Wednesday.
"That was his fastest time and by far his best effort of the year," he said.
Next year will be a huge rebuilding year for the boys’ squad, as they’ll lose a bevy of seniors.
"We’re going to lose six of them," Cuttitta said. "That’s going to be tough. Four of them I’ve spent the past three and a half years with. Wes and Jesse and Sam have been the heart of this team, along with Travan. We’ll miss them from a running perspective as well as the fact that they’re just great leaders and great kids. I’ve spent as much time with them over the past couple years as I have with my family, so I’ll miss them a lot."
But, Cuttitta added, he’s excited for the challenge of basically starting from scratch next year.
"We’ll start training hard," he said. "We’ll get a lot of freshmen and sophomores and we’ll be back."
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