High school cross-country: Rowland Hall boys, North Summit girls capture 2A titles
Matt Gade, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — After two consecutive second-place finishes, Rowland Hall finally broke through to win the 2A boys cross-country championship Wednesday afternoon.
“We kind of did what we’ve always done,” said Rowland Hall coach Mark Oftedal after watching his boys hoist the trophy. “We just keep working and taper off a bit, but the main thing was kind of treating this meet like any other meet — not trying to build it up too much.”
Rowland Hall senior Ryan Westermann picked up a second-consecutive individual title, finishing in a state-record time of 16:09.3. This year though, the first-place team title was the real prize, according to Westermann.
“I feel like the individual win is the icing on the cake. I think coming in here with a group of us friends wanting this title really badly, and coming in second place the last two years, it seemed like this was our year to do it,” said Westermann. “Winning state was the goal coming in, but winning as a individual is icing on the cake.”
Wasatch Academy sophomore Jack McCulloch was neck and neck with Westermann coming around the final turn, but finished just a half-second out of first place. McCulloch offered praise for Westermann and said he felt spiritually in-tune Wednesday.
“At the beginning of the race I said a prayer. I’m named after two World War II rangers, and I asked if I could run with them. And I felt them all the way,” said McCulloch. “I didn’t care if I got first or second — well maybe a little — but I crossed the finish line with my namesake. I’m proud for Ryan (Westermann). I’m very happy for him.”
Oftedal admitted that this year's team was one of the most competitive teams he’s coached, which obviously helped propel Rowland Hall to the top of 2A boys cross-country.
“In the eight years I’ve been here, this is the closest team I’ve had,” said Oftedal. “I got the kids from the four, five, six and seven position all fighting for the spot every week, so it’s been really good to see.”
In the 2A girls cross-country meet, North Summit gave all it had and dethroned two-time defending champ Rowland Hall by capturing its first state title in school history in stunning fashion.
Abbi Zwahlen, who took sixth place individually last year with a time of 20:36.9, set the pace for the Braves as she took third place with a time of 19:38.9.
Millard sophomore Anna Camp and Rowland Hall senior Emily Sundquist were battling head-to-head as they came around the last bend, but it was Camp’s dedicated diving effort that earned her the top individual spot.
“Honestly, I thought she (Sundquist) was going to pass me and I was going to die out,” Camp said on coming around the final turn. “It was super close. I thought she had me. I thought that she beat me right on the line on the last step, but yeah, I guess not.”
Camp finished the 3-mile race in an impressive 19:16.5 — just 0.3 seconds and a hair ahead of Sundquist — to snag her first individual title.
“It was a really hard thing to do, because I have two soccer games this weekend,” said an exhausted Camp after her thrilling finish.
It wasn’t until 22 seconds later that third-place Zwahlen crossed the finish line, followed by senior Olivia Moyle (Enterprise) and freshman Erin Hurst (Emery) to round out the top five.
North Summit and Enterprise were tied at 66 team points, but thanks to Zwahlen’s third-place finish ahead of Enterprise’s fourth-place finish (Moyle), the Braves narrowly took home the gold.
North Sevier easily took third place as three of its runners finished in the top 30, led by freshman Peyton Torgerson (20:52.6) in ninth place.