As she raced down the final straight of the Deseret News Junior 10K Thursday morning in first place, senior-to-be Shalaya Kipp of Skyline High couldn't help but think about 2008 graduate Natalie Haws of Davis High.
After all, Kipp was racing toward an individual cross country state championship last fall on the track of Highland High when Haws beat her on the line. It's an image that's stuck with Kipp over the last nine months, and so you couldn't blame her for feeling precarious over the final kilometer in the Junior 10K, knowing that Haws was somewhere behind her.
This time, though, Kipp made sure Haws couldn't come back.
Remaining calm and steady over the final stretch, the Skyline star won individually in the Deseret News Junior 10K, finishing in 37:19.2 and beating Haws by over 18 seconds.
Meanwhile, Bobby Nicolls of Regis Jesuit High School in Colorado pounded out an individual win on the boys side (30:20.1).
Asked whether she thought about Haws as she raced in Thursday's Junior 10K, Kipp didn't hesitate to respond in the affirmative.
Oh yeah, she said. Always at these races, it's like, Is she gonna come up behind me?' So it's nice that that didn't happen today.
Like so many of the other preps who raced in the fourth edition of the Deseret News Junior 10K, Kipp hoped to use the midsummer race to push herself and have fun.
Done and done.
That certainly seemed to be the theme for Davis High, the defending boys and girls cross country champs. Despite missing some runners on both sides, coach Corbin Talley liked what he saw from his runners, especially considering they'll begin more serious preseason training next week.
It's a good start to our intense section of training, as we get ready for the season, said Talley.
Then there was Nicolls, who said he thoroughly enjoyed his running experience in Salt Lake City.
Offered the chance to compete in a four-man team dubbed US All-Stars by race director Sam Wood, Nicolls took the opportunity and, well, ran with it.
Nicolls said he loved running through the big crowds of Salt Lake City's wide intersections with a USA jersey on.
It was an incredible experience, he said.
Like Kipp, Nicolls has one more year of high school remaining and is also chasing a first individual prep cross country championship. As the highest-ranked returning runner for the prestigious Foot Locker race, he also has plans to excel nationally.
The boys US All-Star team, composed of Nicolis, Evan Appel, Bryan Tibaduiza and Hayden Hohnholt, notched finishes of first, second and fourth to run away with the boys team competition, while on the girls side, Kipp's individual win boosted the Utah All-Star team to a first-place finish ahead of the US Girls All-Star team. Kirstin Sly and Chloe Calton finished fourth and sixth, respectively, for the Utah team.
Individually, graduated Mountain View star Travis Fuller finished third to place the highest of any of the Utah racers on the boys side.