PCHS runners to compete at state
Most years, it’s a given that the Park City High School cross-country teams will qualify for the 3A state meet. And, the last seven years, it’s been a pretty safe bet that the PCHS girls would win the title.
This year, though, has been a rebuilding year of sorts for the Miners. The boys’ team managed to qualify for Wednesday’s state meet with a fourth-place finish at the Region 10 championships. The girls, meanwhile, also qualified by finishing second to Stansbury in Region 10.
On Wednesday, the new-look Miners will visit Sugar House Park in Salt Lake City to run at the 3A state championships. Coach Steve Cuttitta said the Miners are happy to have full squads running at this year’s event.
"On the boys’ side, that was one of our goals this year," he said. "That team is all sophomores and freshmen and one junior who is in his first year of running."
The boys’ team is trending in the right direction, Cuttitta said after the Region 10 meet.
"Nate Hall and Anton Hibl both broke into the 16 [minute range for the five-kilometer race] for the first time," he said. "Anton ran a 16:52 — the fastest time ever for a Park City freshman. We had a couple other guys — Jack Parker and Jake Freeman — in the 17s, too. They’re coming around."
Though Cuttitta doesn’t expect the Park City boys to be in the mix for a title this year, he said running at the state meet will give them valuable experience.
"All those guys are back next year," he said. "The state meet is different than any other meet. To get to go through that this year, almost as a trial run, will be very beneficial for next year. They’ll get to see the best teams in 3A and they’ll get to learn the course and what the meet is like. I think it inspires and motivates for the future."
The winning team on Wednesday will likely have a couple of runners in the 15-minute range. Cuttitta hopes that the Miners will have some runners in that range next year and the year after.
"Most runners, I typically say, drop about a minute from their first year to their second year," he said. "I think [Hall and Hibl] are two guys who can eventually run in the 15s. They can be in the top five in the state meet eventually. They’re first-year runners. These guys have been running for three months, so I think the potential is very high and I think the talent is there and the work ethic is there. They could go a long way."
On the girls’ side, the Miners will look to claim their eighth straight title. After finishing second to Stansbury in the Region 10 meet, though, Park City will have its work cut out for it at Sugar House Park.
"Stansbury will be tough to beat and Pine View (from Region 9) is probably the favorite going in," Cuttitta said.
However, since Park City won’t be expected to win this year, Cuttitta hopes the girls use that as motivation to run their best.
"We’ve won seven in a row, but we’re the underdogs going into this one," he said. "People probably aren’t looking out for us the way they have in years past. We can be an underdog and embrace that role."
Cuttitta acknowledged that the Miners have a tough task ahead of them if they want to hoist the trophy once again.
"We’re going to have to get a little bit lucky," he said. "We definitely need to make sure we run our best times of the season [with the top five runners]. If we do that, we’re going to be in the mix. We also need Stansbury and Pine View to not have their best days."
Cuttitta said the Miners shouldn’t be feeling the pressure of the seven previous titles. He said the girls can still be successful even if they don’t win it all.
"I don’t think the pressure is on them," he said. "They want to win, not to continue the streak, but just to win a state title. If there is pressure, it comes from them, not from me. They want to run well and want to win for themselves.
"Running success isn’t necessarily determined by what place you finish. If they run their best times of the season, that’s going to be a success."
The 3A girls’ race is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. at Sugar House Park in Salt Lake City. The 3A boys’ race is slated to begin at 2:30 p.m.
The Park City High School girls golf team took second in the Class 4A state championship tournament on Thursday. It was the team’s fifth consecutive time as runner-up.