They saved the best for last at Wednesday's UHSAA-First Security Bank state prep cross country meet at Sugarhouse Park and Highland High. The 4A boys race had a returning champion who had something to prove after a lackluster showing in his region meet, while the wide-open team-title chase was appropriately labeled by some onlookers as "a crap shoot."
Timpview's Dan Alder - the latest in the long string of strong T-bird runners such as Dave Spence and Brandon Rhoads - had won the 1989 4A boys individual title, but was admitted he had run "a real dumb race" in the Region 4 meet while losing to Mountain View's Sam St. Clair. The state meet afforded opportunities for revenge and a final senior-season showing.To quickly end all suspense, Alder repeated as individual champion. More on his first-place finish in a moment.
As for the team race - defending champion Timpview had not only Alder but a string of four straight state crowns; Viewmont had mounted the strongest overall team showing in dual and invitational meets this fall; and Mountain View and American Fork had posted impressive showings in the talent-laden Region 4. And then there was Bingham - everybody's darkhorse.
And when it was all over - there was Bingham, clutching its first-ever cross country state-championship trophy.
"This is a good cross country state with a lot of good teams, and a hot team on the right day will take it - if you come through on the right day," said Bingham Coach Jeff Arbogast, mindful that it takes strong performances from all five of a squad's point-collecting runners. "We've never been able to match all five together before . . . . This was Bingham's best race."
It was Bingham's best in as much as Robby Duncan finishing second with a time of 15 minutes, 13.5 seconds, while teammates Adam Reeves and Phillip Woolston finished sixth and seventh about 15 seconds back. Matt Deakin and Matt Poulsen finished among the top 24 4A boys to round out the Miners' winning efforts with 56 team points.
Meanwhile, Viewmont had to settle for the second-place trophy after a 62- point total. Last year's heartbreaker had Viewmont edged out of second by Mountain View by a single point; this year's heartbreaker was the fact that the five counting Viking runners all finished ahead of Bingham's fifth-place runner - and yet the points awarded to the five weren't low enough to move ahead.
Paul Cutler was the top Viewmont runner, finishing fifth at 15:24.3, while teammate Jeremy Call was 10th some 15 seconds back. The three other Viking runners - Tyler Gledhill, Dane Miller and Pete Hess - all finished in the mid-teens, making Viewmont's team total balloon a bit more than Bingham's, with the Miners enjoying the advantageous second-sixth-seventh combination.
Mountain View, led by St. Clair's third-place time of 15:15.3, was third with 69 points. American Fork (110) and Brighton (181) were fourth and fifth.
In the 3A boys race, Bountiful's Brandon Wilding ran in front essentially from start to finish, pulling away with Cedar City's Brian Hancock from the rest of the racers in the meet's early stages.
Wilding was one of only two Bountiful boys competing in the state meet, with the rest of the inexperienced Brave squad unable to qualify from out of Region 6.
Ted Hansen of Judge finished third at 15:51.8 - the first of five Bulldog runners - also Danny Nowicki, Jeremy Ortega, Gary Green and Wes Keller - to end up in the top 20 places. The total team effort enabled Judge to take top honors in the 3A team competition, with the Bulldogs' 48 points better than Ben Lomond's 68 and Mountain Crest's 77.