OREM Small schools usually don't have the depth to compete with the larger schools team-wise in cross country, but they can muster up individual wins on a regular basis.
That was apparent as Judge Memorial took the boys and girls varsity races in the Orem Kiwanis Invitational at UVSC on Saturday.
Fortunately for the racers, the wet weather didn't hit until the boys varsity race, and that was only a sprinkle. The cool, dry weather helped keep the girls race close, and it wasn't decided until the end.
Judge senior Hailey Knettles overtook Davis runner Natalie Haws near the finish to take the race in 18:35, edging Haws by one second. Haws held a 30-meter lead with more than 400 meters to go, but an existing quadriceps injury could have played a role in the giving up the lead. "She (Haws) had a great kick, and on the kick we both just went," Knettles said.
On the boys side, Judge's Luke Puskedra came in as the favorite, and his 14:54 time shows why he could be considered one of the best runners in the country. Puskedra finished one minute ahead of Bingham's Nate Jewkes.
"On the first mile, I just relaxed," Puskedra said. "And on the second mile, I have been focused a little more on that this year. The third mile, I just tried to bring it in."
For the team standings, schools were broken up into 5A, 4A and 1A-3A categories, and Utah County schools took three of the four team spots for the larger schools.
Orem took home both the boys and girls trophies in 4A. The boys came in with a score of 27, and the girls topped them with a 22 total.
"They're really holding together well and running awesome as a team," Orem coach Corbin Talley said. "That's our whole theme this year is just being a team."
Benjamin Johnson and Krystal Harper helped out the Tigers' cause finishing first among 4A runners. The girls all finished in the top 14, and the boys just finished a hair behind in having all of its runners in the top 16.
Davis took the 5A girls crown with a score of 57 almost half that of second-place Timpanogos. American Fork just nipped Alta 64-69 to win the 5A boys.The 1A-3A team standings were the closest on the day. Ogden took the boys with 72 points, closely followed by Park City with 76. The Miners edged Judge on the girls side 63-64.