Ravell Call, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Park City's Ben Saarel made a statement at the 3A state cross country meet on Wednesday afternoon.
He not only capped off his high school running career with a third consecutive individual state title, but he also became just the second male runner to complete the Sugarhouse Park course in less than 15 minutes.
Sugarhouse Park and Highland High have been the home of the state meet since 1998.
"I am really grateful. It has been an awesome experience in high school, I couldn't ask for anything more," Saarel said after posting a time of 14:56.7. The record, set in 2007 by Luke Puskedra of Judge Memorial, is 14:54.6.
"With a mile to go, I decided I needed to go for it," Saarel conintued. "I was feeling good and I am a second-half runner. That last 800 meters hurt so bad, I was trying to relax; there was just a lot of anger and pain. I saw the time at the end and I was close, but I was not quite able to pull (the record) out."
Park City coach Jeff Wyant met Saarel at the finish line and celebrated the near record and his third individual title.
"This is his third state championship in a row, which not many guys have done," the coach said. "There are not many of those walking around."
Wyant's girls' team also had a strong day. The Miners won the girls' 3A title and narrowly missed the team record time — they were also just two seconds shy. The top five Park City runners had a combined time of 1:33:52.1. The fastest girls team ever, the 1999 Bingham squad, ran the course in 1:33:50.8.
"This is one of the fastest teams ever assembled in Utah," Wyant said, noting that Alyssa Snyder set the sophomore course record of 18:31.2 in her fifth-place finish.
"We had a plan; we knew what we were trying to do," Wyant continued. "At a mile I was a little scared that we were out too fast, but they came through and did it."
The Miners were led by Annie Orr, who finished third overall with a time of 18:16.3, fourth-place finisher Alisse Walker, 18:24.8, and Snyder, who came in fifth.
"Ali and Annie have led the team and focused them on training right, eating right, doing everything right," Wyant said. "It really came from the team more than it has in years past."
The Park City girls have won five consecutive team titles and 10 of the last 11.
In the boys' team competition, Ogden High sailed past the competition with 67 points.
The Tigers were led by second-place finisher Jordon Cross, who finished the race with a time of 15:30.3, and Mike Buckley, 10th overall with a time of 16:07.0.
Cedar City's Aimee Bryson, a junior cross country and track participant, won the individual girls title. She ran in a time of 17:59.6, setting a 3A record.
"I never was in the lead," Bryson said. "I just kind of tucked in behind the leaders and let them take turns going in front. I started to make my move probably 400 meter before the finish. I didn't want to take it too soon because I know these guys are such good runners."
Class 3A State Cross Country Meet
At Sugarhouse Park
Boys team scores
1. Ogden, 67; 2. Wasatch, 96; 3. Desert Hills, 106; 4. Park City, 114; 5. Pine View, 125; 6. Cedar, 171; 7. Bear River, 192; 8. Stansbury, 205.
Boys individual results
1. Ben Saarel, Park City, 14:56.7
2. Jordon Cross, Ogden, 15:30.3
3. Michael Finch, Pine View, 15:39.8
4. Austin Slade, Stansbury, 15:41.4
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