SALT LAKE CITY — The Skyline cross country team got a wake-up call after a disappointing meet a few weeks before Wednesday’s 5A state championship meet.
Long-time coach Tom Porter got a personal wake-up call Sunday night when he and his family were driving back from visiting his son at Snow College in Ephraim.
“We went up to Park City a few weeks ago, and we just blew up,” Porter said after the Skyline girls team won the 5A state championship with a 76-80 win over Maple Mountain. “We had the worst race, and it was probably the best thing that could happen to our team because it woke them all up. It wasn’t that they ran horrible, it was that they didn’t compete. They didn’t get in there and fight. And that was the first time, all year, I didn’t see them fight.”
In the wake of that disappointment, Porter said coaches reiterated that when it came to the state meet, win or lose, they needed to fight. He emphasized that point by sharing a harrowing experience he had driving home from Ephraim Sunday.
As he drove northbound, a southbound vehicle drifted into his lane, forcing him to swerve off the road and onto the shoulder momentarily. In trying to bring the car back onto the road, it rolled. His wife and three children, all wearing seatbelts, walked away from the accident, but he showed his runners a picture of the overturned car before Wednesday’s 5A state championship cross country meet.
His message was simple: Don’t waste opportunities because no one knows how many one might have.
The girls took both messages to heart, and in doing so, helped earn Skyline its first state cross country championship.
Corner Canyon junior Karli Branch earned the 5A title with a time of 17:51.4, while Springville freshman Heidi Sumsion earned second-place with a time of 18:07.8. Skyline senior Camille Winterton placed third (18:15.4) to lead the Eagles in their championship effort.
After finishing, Branch walked directly into the arms of her mother and sobbed.
“I’ve been dreaming about it for so long,” said the junior who finished 20th last season. “I just put in so much hard work, and also I’m just grateful for the people who got me there, and the people who believed in me.”
She said she took 50th as a freshman but coaches and her family continued to encourage her, believing she could be faster with dedicated training.
She got more sleep, ate better and trained consistently in an effort to improve her speed and endurance. When she started beating the classification’s top runners this season, she knew her dream was within reach.
“I really wanted it,” she said. “It was just so amazing. My strategy, I always try to kick, from like a mile. All these girls are so good, I knew it was going to be a lot tougher.”
Her parents cheered her on from different spots on the course, her father yelling, “No chances!”
“Go so fast that they don’t have a chance to catch you,” she said. “I’m not normally a kicker.”
In the boys race, Timpview senior Aidan Troutner earned the win with 14:48.8, while Springville junior Grant Gardner edged his teammate for second place with a time of 14:58.1. Senior Brandon Garnica was third, crossing the line in 15:01.1
Troutner said he went out fast hoping to help his teammates by tiring the front of the pack. He led most of the race, but he said he focused on keeping his feet moving at the fastest pace possible.
“I don’t really feel about anything almost,” he said. “You’ve just got to keep grinding and keep the turnover rate up because you don’t want to give them any ounce of hope that they could come back. Just got to keep pushing the pace.”
He said last year’s third-place finish motivated him to train hard in the offseason.
“I felt really good about it,” he said of last year’s bronze. “So this year I knew I had a really good chance to win it.”
Springville won the boys' title with four runners finishing in the top 10. They earned the school’s first boys cross country title with 40 points, while Timpanogos finished second with 65 points, Olympus was third with 105 points and Skyridge finished fourth with 124 points. Timpview was fifth with 140 points. “We’ve been in a couple of meets where it’s been really close, and I think it’s been frustrating to the boys,” said head coach Sam Smith. “So between region and now, they were like, ‘We don’t want anyone to doubt where we are.’ They’ve come out with fury and it shows.”
Boys team scores 1. Springville 40, 2. Timpanogos 65, 3. Olympus 105, 4. Skyridge 124, 5. Timpview 140 Individual results 1. Aidan Troutner, Timpview 14:48.8; 2. Grant Gardner, Springville 14:58.1; 3. Brandon Garnica, Springville 15:01.1; 4. Caleb Garnica, Springville 15:21.7; 4. Jima Rout, Olympus 15:27.2; 6. Curt Crossley, Roy 15:30.6; 7. Devin Pancake, Springville 15:35.3; 8. Ben Berlin, Timpanogos 15:37.4; 9. Ethan Hoenig, Olympus; 10. Brennan Benson, Timpanogos 15:51.73 comments on this story
Girls team scores 1. Skyline 76, 2. Maple Mountain 80, 3. Corner Canyon 85, 4. Springville 117, 5. Olympus 121 Individual results 1. Karli Branch, Corner Canyon 17:51.4; 2. Heidi Sumsion, Springville, 18:07.8; 3. Camille Winterton, Skyline 18:15.4; 4. Kiana Campbell, Maple Mountain 18:23.6; 5. Carlee Hansen, Woods Cross 18:24.9; 6. Willow Collins, Corner Canyon 18:28.9; 7. Katie Duckworth, Olympus 18:32.4; 8. Abby West, Wasatch 18:40.1; 9. AnnaBeth Templeman, Springville 18:40.6; 10. Grace Burnett, Skyline 18:45.3