SALT LAKE CITY — Weber High School senior McKenna Lee started in the back of the pack in the 6A girls three-mile state race on Wednesday.
She didn’t stay there for long.
“I started in the middle to back because I’m not very good at sprinting at the very beginning. I had to make my way up and then I caught the first group at a mile and a half, like, halfway through,” Lee said. “I just kept my pace going.”
Lee finished in first place with a time of 17:49. Abby Jensen of Westlake took second place with a time of 18:11.6 and Haley Tanne of Pleasant Grove finished in third place, crossing the finish line with a time of 18:12.2.
“The time was OK. Last year, I ran a 17:46, so I kind of wanted to beat that, but it makes up for it because this year I actually won, so I’m happy with my overall race,” Lee said.
Lee finished in second place last year, and finally got over the hump in 2017.
“It was definitely my goal and from the beginning of the year I was ranked first in Utah, so it was my goal to keep with it and win state,” Lee said.
Lee said that she knew she could win when she hit a half-mile away from the finish line.
“I could see that I was coming to the end and everybody was yelling at me, ‘You have a good gap,’ so I was like ‘OK, I can do this,’” Lee said.
When she crossed the finish line, the word “Hallelujah!” went through Lee’s mind.
In team competition, Pleasant Grove took home the trophy, with a score of 78. American Fork finished in second with 93 and Lone Peak took third with 101 points.
“You take basketball or football, one or two guys can win it for you, but in running, your No. 1 can only do once, so you got to have five really strong runners. It’s a team effort, definitely a team effort,” Pleasant Grove coach Mark Morrison said.
In the boys division, Bronson Winter of Fremont High School won the individual state title, finishing with a time of 15:09.3.
“It was good, good pace. I slowed down a little bit in the third mile, but overall, I felt I did pretty good,” Winter said.
Winter started pulling away toward the mile-and-a-half mark.
“I just held it, and then (Justin Hartshorn of) Lone Peak caught me right at end and that gave me that extra second wind to push hard and finish strong, so that was nice,” Winter said.
Winter’s brother, Zachary, also races for Fremont, and finished in third place. Initially, Winter thought his brother was coming up behind him, but it turned out to by Hartshorn.
Bronson was relieved that it wasn’t Zachary.
“I was so glad, I was like, ‘Yes!” Bronson said, as Zachary dumped water on him from behind as he was talking.
In team competition, American Fork finished first with a score of 56, while Herriman came in second with 88 and Riverton rounded out the top three with 120.
“Honestly, I love being up here with the team. It’s so sick being able to finish something, get to a goal and achieve it as a team. Running individually is great and all, but I had Dalton (Brems) right next to me, I was going off him the entire race. He was pacing me, he was pushing us the whole way in order to pace out,” American Fork junior Carson Clinger said.
6A girls results
1. McKenna Lee, Weber, 17:49.0; 2. Abby Jensen, Westlake, 18:11.6; 3. Haley Tanne, Pleasant Grove, 18:12.2; 4. Reagan Gardner, Lone Peak, 18:17.6; 5. Lexi Wright, American Fork, 18:19.8; 6. Eliza Arrington, Lone Peak, 18:22.0; 7. Mazzie Melaney, Fremont, 18:26.2; 8. Sammi Lee, Weber, 18:27.5; 9. Mya McKown, Pleasant Grove, 18:31.6; 10. Mica Rivera, Herriman, 18:32.8
6A boys results
1. Bronson Winter, Fremont, 15:09.3; 2. Justin Hartshorn, Line Peak, 15:10.9; 3. Zachary Winter, Fremont, 15:17.8; 4. Logan Anderson, Westlake, 15:22.6; 5. Carson Clinger, American Fork, 15:36.1; 6. Dalton Brems, American Fork, 15:38.0; 7. Dylan Tidwell, Bingham, 15:39.5; 8. Addison Hedges, Weber, 15:42.6; 9. Luke Grundvig, American Fork, 15:43.6; 10. Joey Nokes, Riverton, 15:47.2