Reese McGrath leads Miner boys to second place at Region 8 cross-country championships
All season long, the Park City High School boys cross-country team has chased Springville and Spanish Fork but never found enough speed to take them down. Entering the Region 8 Championships hosted by Spanish Fork, the Miners knew they were going to have to run the perfect race if they were going to emerge victorious – but they came up just short in second place.
“We had always just been a bit behind Springville and Spanish Fork in the three times we’ve seen them this season,” coach Steve Cuttitta said. “We had slowly been closing the gap but we knew it would take a lot to make a move at the championships.”
Led by senior Reese McGrath, the Miners finished in second place with 55 points, barely ousted by Springville and its 44 points. Maple Mountain finished in third with 84 points while Spanish Fork finished fourth with 108 points.
“Even though we didn’t win, we are still going to the state championships with a good frame of mind because getting over the hump of beating Spanish Fork was big for us, very big,” Cuttitta said.
McGrath, who has been the Miners’ No. 1 runner all season long, accomplished one of his goals by being named as the individual champion at the Region finals. He finished in a time of 15 minutes, 41.4 seconds, three seconds ahead of second-place finisher, senior Jackson Adams of Springville.
According to Cuttitta, McGrath was “courageous” in his race, jumping out into the lead at about the 1.5-mile marker and taking off. He opened such a wide gap and was able to sustain that lead the rest of the race, with nobody threatening him once he took off.
“After what Reese did I couldn’t be more proud of him,” Cuttitta said. “Before the race, he told me he was going to go for it, so he essentially said, ‘Here I am, come and get me if you can,’ and no one was able to do so. His ability to control the race was impressive.”
McGrath was far from the only star for Park City on the day. Sophomore Wes Campbell, who finished eighth in a time of 15:57.9, deserved as much credit for McGrath’s victory as McGrath did, according to Cuttitta.
Campbell was the one who jumped out to the early lead and set the pace faster than what most teams were expecting. This allowed McGrath time to settle in and find his groove while most of the other runners were just trying to play catch up from the get-go because of Campbell.
“Wes led the race early on and really set the tempo for us and the rest of the runners,” Cuttitta said. “He really kick started Reese in his race and that helped lead to our second place finish.”
Rounding out the boys side for the Miners were senior Kaleb Barnhart (15:59.0), in 10th place, and juniors Will Henry (16:11.4) and Bennett Diamond (16:15.2), who took home 17th and 19th place respectively.
“Kaleb hasn’t had season he’s wanted too but he really stepped up, which is a testament to when things aren’t going well but to keep training and trust our system,” Cuttitta said. “Our top six are our leaders and have consistently been at the top for us all season long. It was really cool to see that pay off because it really helps us team wise moving forward.”
Moving forward is exactly what the boys are doing, preparing for the upcoming UHSAA 5A state championship meet coming up on Wednesday, Oct. 23 at Sugar House Park in Salt Lake City.
According to Cuttitta, this year’s competition is going to be stiff as Timpanogos is a nationally ranked team. Throw in Springville and some of the other region champions and Cuttitta believes his ceiling for the boy’s team is around fifth or sixth place, but also acknowledges that anything can happen on race day.
“All it takes is one race and a lot can happen during it,” Cuttitta said. “The pressure and strategy all comes in to play, so you have to have the right mindset, and I think we are trending towards that. We’re in a good spot right now, and continuing to get faster so we are going to go out and run our race and see what happens.”
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Dave Hanscom announced last month he was retiring as volunteer race director of the Wasatch Citizens Series after 30 years in the position.