An annual fund-raising trek, sponsored by Brighton High School's football team, was canceled Saturday when a fight between Salt Lake and American Fork youths broke out.
American Fork Police and concerned parents stopped the clash at 1:15 a.m. in a grocery store parking lot on the north side of American Fork.No arrests or injuries were reported.
However, according to Brighton High football coach Mark W. Nielson, there were a lot of disappointed youths.
The event - a 50-mile walk from Mapleton to Brighton High School - had been undertaken for a second year, not only to raise money for football uniforms and equipment, but as a pre-season activity to challenge the 87 players physically and mentally.
"We wanted to test them - to let them know they can do things beyond their mental and physical capabilities," Nielson said.
Last year, the players suffered blistered, sore feet and tired muscles, but Nielson said all participants were physically better prepared for the 1988 walk.
No one, however, was apparently prepared for the heckling and harassment encountered along the way. Utah County youths, in vehicles traveling up to 50 mph, threw eggs at the walkers, officials said.
When a minor verbal and shoving match erupted at an American Fork convenience store, coaches and parents trucked the walkers to the first-aid station at the grocery store parking lot.
"All of the sudden it was like a war. Kids came in very kind of vehicle from everywhere," Nielson said. "Fortunately we had a lot of level-headed parents who got in the middle and broke it up."
The American Fork Police also intervened.
The walkers and their support teams, including the school's cheerleaders, were taken to the Alpine-Highland exit on I-15 to resume the walk. But the Utah County youths showed up again.
"We decided we couldn't take a chance," Nielson said. The Salt Lake youths were transported back to the school. The event was canceled and disappointed walkers went home.
"Last year, we felt the experience helped them a lot," the coach said. "They found out they could do things they didn't know they could do. When totally exhausted, they found they could walk another five miles.
Though glad no one was injured in the dispute, Nielson said, "Making something positive about this year's walk is going to be difficult."