Mountain View's Lisa Whiting is much like her Bruin teammates. There's this word that never showed up on their spelling or vocabulary tests.

So who could blame the girls on the Bruins cross country team if they didn't know what the word meant?The word?

Underdog.

It's not likely the Bruins would get any help from coach Dave Houle if they asked. Houle, who needs another state title like Bill Gates needs a welfare check, would probably just say, "I don't know. I think it starts with a `U.' "

For the first time in 14 years, the girls cross country team at Mountain View High School is not the favorite to win the state championship.

Only Orem, which upset Mountain View for the 1992 state title, has kept the crosstown rival Bruins from winning 13 state titles in a row.

The Bingham girls are ranked ninth nationally and are poised to interupt Mountain View's dynasty. The Bruins begin the season ranked 10th in the USA Today preseason poll.

"If I had to call it right now, I'd say Bingham would have a good chance of beating Mountain View," said Miners coach Jeff Arbogast.

Abogast is being kind. The Miners are a solid favorite. They return their top runner from last year in Lisa Paxton, along with six of their top seven runners from last year's team that finished second to Mountain View.

If that wasn't enough, Bingham will get a boost from a pair of freshman twins, Laura and Jackie Zeigle, who are so good Arobgast says they could finish first and third on the team.

Whiting is Mountain View's top returning runner and was a Foot-locker finalist as a sophomore. She has the credentials to win the 5A individual title, but she knows that even that may not be enough.

"Our boys team bugs us all the time about it, saying Bingham is going to beat us," Whiting said. "But you know how guys are. We've still got a good team and we've worked hard over the summer."

In the 4A girls race, East is loaded again and looks to be the clear favorite, while Cedar City appears to be the class of 3A.

Monticello and Granstville will be tough in 2A. Wayne, who fea-tures the state's top-ranked runner in Sarah Ellet, is the favorite in the 1A.

In the boys competition, Mountain View is ranked second nationally and has the edge over Bing-ham (ranked sixth nationally).

Mountain Crest is also nationally ranked. The Mustangs come in at No. 20 and look strong enough to defend their 4A title.

Provo has the top 4A runner in Josh Rohatinsky but may not have enough depth to overtake Mountain Crest.

Ogden, Wasatch and Park City make up a balanced 3A field, while North Sevier, last year's 2A champs, is preparing for a re-peat.

In 1A, Dugway will be looking for its fourth straight title.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The rankings

Top 10 teams

(All Classifications)

Boys Girls

1. Mtn. View Bingham

2. Bingham Mtn. View

3. Mtn. Crest East

4. Brighton Cedar City

5. Orem Orem

6. Davis Copper Hills

7. Provo Kearns

8. Timpview Mtn. Crest

9. Layton Spanish Fork

10. Davis Wayne

Top 10 individuals

Boys

1. Josh Rohatinsky (Provo)

2. Nic McCombs (Brighton)

3. Zach West (Layton)

4. Brett Andrus (Mtn. View)

5. Trevor Ball (Mtn. Crest)

6. Brock Call (Mtn. View)

7. Jeff Bullock (Bingham)

8. Jeff Allen (Bingham)

9. Travis Dean (Clearfield)

10. Collin Ferre (Brighton)

Girls

1. Sarah Ellet (Wayne)

2. Lisa Whiting (Mtn. View)

3. Phoebe Ko (East)

4. Lisa Paxton (Bingham)

5. Kassie Anderson (Provo)

6. Laura Zeigle (Bingham)

7. Steph Clark (East)

8. Jackie Zeigle (Bingham)

9. Tiffany Strickland (Mtn. View)

10. Stephanie Bierwolf (Viewmont)