High school cross-country: Two different Tigers sweep 4A boys and girls state titles
SALT LAKE CITY — Sky View’s Conner Mantz rested with a banner draped around his shoulders on the far edge of the Highland High track Wednesday afternoon. He had just won the 4A boys individual cross-country title. As he prepared to approach the winner's circle, one of his teammates joked that he had missed an opportunity for a signature moment.
“You should have danced, turned around, and done a little moonwalk,” he said.
Mantz's signature moment, however, came on the course at Sugarhouse Park. His winning time of 15:11.5 trounced the 4A field by 25 seconds.
Ogden’s Mike Buckley, Salem Hills’ Gavin Hasty, Orem’s Matt Owens, Orem’s Kyle Bunker, East’s Garek Bielaczyc, Mountain View’s Sam Sorensen, Woods Cross’ Jacob Stone, Timpanogos’ Koy Moore and Woods Cross’ Taylor Dillon completed the top 10.
Amazingly, Mantz’s margin of victory didn’t even top the classification. Ogden’s Sarah Feeny broke the all-time state record on the girls side with a time of 17:25, surpassing the previous record of 17:36 set by Kelsey Braithwaite of Box Elder.
“That was my goal all season. Actually, I was trying to make 17 (minutes), but it’s OK — state record is good,” Feeny said when asked if she knew the record was within reach. “The coaches had my splits, so they’re like, ‘You got to go.’ It was so nice. Everyone was cheering for me so loud. That really helped me coming into the finish line.”
Box Elder’s Hannah Malone, Timpanogos’ Mary Christensen, Woods Cross’ Millika Holbrook, Maple Mountain’s Britney Lund and Megan Gutke, Timpanogos’ Rachel Bocanegra, Skyline’s Caroline Weiler, East’s Eleanor Wettstein and Ogden’s Maranda Garrett rounded out the top 10.
For Feeny, the accolades only heightened when the Tigers, ranked No. 38 nationally, won the girls state championship with a team score of 98, edging out Timpanogos, which finished with a 103.
“It’s all about the fourth and fifth runners,” Ogden coach Don Hall said. “April (Callister), normally our fifth runner, collapsed out there, so it really put us in doubt. The hero was Hannah Allred, who was a good solid fourth, and Aleisha Keller, who had to step up as our fifth runner.”
Although Ogden’s boys squad entered ranked No. 15 nationally, it was a different group of Tigers that earned the boys hardware for the first time since 1974.
Behind Matt Owens (fourth), Kyle Bunker (fifth), Erik Mckell (12th), Kendall Barlow (19th) and Jirreegna Riding (31st), Orem literally and figuratively ran away from the field with a team score of 71, well ahead of second-place Timpanogos, which finished with 105 points.
“To win a championship in cross-country is so extremely hard in Utah. The quality of teams in Utah are unbelievable,” Orem coach Andy Jacobs said. “We’ve been close so many years in a row. We’ve owned that third-place position for so long. We’ve proven that we can be consistent.
“Cross-country is a unique sport,” Jacobs continued. “In a lot of sports you can be a great player and hide a little bit and your team can still win. In this sport everybody has to put their best out to win. So, to get five people to run their absolute best, and to beat a field like this — it’s really special.”
Boys Team Finishes
1. Orem, 71; 2. Timpanogos, 105; 3. Ogden, 112; 4. Salem Hills, 159; 5. Skyline, 165; 6. Sky View, 180; 7. Mountain View, 182; 8. Woods Cross, 213.
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