SALT LAKE CITY — For four years, from 2011-2014, no one in the 1A classification could touch the Monticello boys cross country team. Their run of state titles was one of the finest the Beehive State has ever seen, tied with Dugway (1995-1998), Intermountain (1977-1980) and Timpview (1986-1989) for fifth best in state history.
And then, 2015 and 2016 happened. The Buckaroos fell short in both years, and each time they were forced to watch a stellar Panguitch group claim the title.
Monticello's former dominance remained at the forefront of its runners' minds, however, and on Wednesday morning at Sugarhouse Park, the Buckaroos found their way back to the top.
“It’s been two state championships since we won,” said Adam Bunker. “I watched all my upperclassmen friends win state championships, so it is cool to join them. It feels great.”
Bunker led the way for both Monticello and all 1A runners, claiming the individual state championship with a time of 16:20:0.
“I was going to take the first two miles a little slower than normal,” Bunker said of his pregame strategy. “I wanted to have a strong last mile. In the end, the junior “just ran”, a strategy that proved more than adequate enough to claim a state title.
In the end, the junior “just ran”, a strategy that proved more than adequate enough to claim a state title.
In second place was Porter Schoppe, out of Panguitch High School with a time of 17:13:1. Monticello freshman Alan Pettit, at 17:19:0, took third place.
It was all about the Buckaroos on this occasion, though, as Monticello finished with five of the top-10 finishers. Not only that, but every Monticello runner finished in the top 15. Hyrum Johnson (17:34:2) and Ryan Bird (17:58:0) finished in fifth and sixth place, respectively, while Lucas Hatch (18:09:4) and Dylan Bird (18:42:5) finished ninth and fourteenth.
“I feel great about these guys,” said Bunker. “It was the exact same group last year, and we took third, by just two points. That was really hard. We are still young though and the goal all year was to win the state championship. We worked really hard for this.”
That was abundantly clear as each and every Buckaroo runner greeted one another with fist bumps and cheers, thrilled to see his teammates finish so well.
“This is great,” said Bunker.
While Monticello was busy reviving the glory days, the Milford girls team were making a little bit of history themselves.
It had been 11 years since the Tigers had held aloft the team state championship trophy, much too long as far as the Milford runners were concerned.
“(Winning the state championship) was our goal from the beginning of this season,” said the entire gaggle of Tigers.
After the 1A girls race, Milford could rightfully say mission accomplished.
The Tigers claimed a five-point victory over second place Panguitch, thanks to top-five finishes by Kinley Spaulding (19:53:0), Akaydeh Livingston (20:33:7) and Taylor Alger (21:34:2).
“All of our teammates are our friends,” said Spaulding. “We all knew we didn’t want to, and couldn’t, let each other down.”
As far as what the state title meant to them as well as to Milford, the girls answered in unison, “It’s great!! Yeah!!”
The 1A girls individual championship was claimed not by a Tiger, however, but by Panguitch sophomore Taylia Norris, with a time of 19:26:8. She was followed in the top three by Spaulding and Livingston.
Top 10 girls finishers: 1. Taylia Norris, Panguitch, 19:26:8; 2. Kinley Spaulding, Milford, 19:53:0; 3. Akaydeh Livingston, Milford, 20:33:7; 4. Lauren Thomson, Rich, 21:17:6; 5. Taylor Alger, Milford, 21:34:2; 6. Camri Fischer, Panguitch, 21:44:8; 7. McKayla Holiday, Monument Valley, 22:18:2; 8. Jacilyn Leifson, Rich, 22:24:4; 9. Yanely Duenas, Wendover, 22:26:3; 10. Corryn Anderson, Panguitch, 22:30:8.
Top 10 boys finishers: 1. Adam Bunker, Monticello, 16:20:0; 2. Porter Schoppe, Panguitch, 17:13:1; 3. Alan Pettit, Monticello, 17:19:0; 4. Luke Reeder, Panguitch, 17:19:3; 5. Hyrum Johnson, Monticello, 17:34:2; 6. Ryan Bird, Monticello, 17:58:0; 7. Kaden Beckstead, Panguitch, 18:02:6; 8. Easton Syrett, Bryce Valley, 18:07:4; 9. Lucas Hatch, Monticello, 18:09:4; 10. Bosten Englestead, Panguitch, 18:09:8.
Boys team results
- Monticello 15; 2. Panguitch 22; 3. Tintic 74; 4. Water Canyon 81; 5. Rich 108; 6. Tabiona 110; 7 Pinnacle 141; 8. Wendover 142.
Girls team results
- Milford 23; 2. Panguitch 28; 3. Rich 67; 4. Piute 75; 5. Monument Valley 83; 6. Monticello 85; 7. Wendover 106.