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Steve Griffin, Deseret News
Carlee Hansen, of Woods Cross, crosses the finish line in first place in the girls 5A high school country track meet at Sugar House Park in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018.

SALT LAKE CITY — After a painful muscle condition forced Carlee Hansen to quit soccer, one might expect her to focus on something more sedentary.

But the Woods Cross sophomore set her sights on what seems an even more grueling goal — winning a state title in cross country running.

Wednesday afternoon, with the finish tape draped around her neck, the girl who took up sports in hopes of strengthening her lungs after being diagnosed with asthma as a small child, explained why her goal never seemed out of reach to her.

“I’ve just been loving running since I was young,” she said after winning the 5A individual championship with a time of 18:05.2. “And the doctor said, if I run with asthma (using an inhaler before training and races), that it will actually strengthen my lungs. I tried lots of sports trying to strengthen my lungs.”

The most impressive aspect of Hansen’s victory wasn’t that she realized her goal about a year after quitting competitive soccer, but that she did so less than 24 hours after allergies triggered an asthma attack on the eve of the state meet.

“It was really hard to breathe,” she said, giggling as she explained how she was doing chores when she accidentally got too close to her brother’s pet rabbit. “I had the allergic reaction, so I was kind of expecting to have a hard time breathing.”

Even with the pre-race inhaler, she said she struggled to breathe from the start.

“Sometimes it’s hard (for the inhaler to work) when I already have (an attack),” she said. “I knew last night I was going to have to handle my breathing, and I did my best. …I just didn’t feel too good.”

Hansen shrugs and laughs as she said she simply did her best “just to hold on.”

As some of the top runners went out fast, she stuck to her planned pace. “I let the people who went out fast drop back and then I saw…Grace (Burnett, Skyline) at the end and I was just, like, ‘Hold on.’ I know if have a kick at the end.” With about 300 meters left in the race, Hansen passed Burnett to earn the 5A title.

Burnett crossed the finish line four seconds later, with a time of 18:08.9, while Bountiful’s Laurie Murphy was third with a time of 18:21.5.

Springville girls won the team title with a score of 73 points, while Timpview was second with 105 points and Bountiful was third with 112 points. Skyline finished fifth with 113 points.

Hansen said she was very fortunate that physical therapy had helped her deal with compartment syndrome, which is a painful and dangerous condition in which pressure within one of the body’s muscles (her calves), results in insufficient blood supply to the tissue in that muscle.

“My calves would get so sore, just like in a big ball,” she said. “I can’t even describe it. Soccer seemed to make it worse. I couldn’t even wear the equipment or socks because my calves were like in a ball and tight.” How did they feel after a challenging 3-mile race with hampered breathing?

“They feel great,” she said. “No pain today.”

On the boys side, Springville’s Grant Gardner earned his first individual state title after two consecutive second-place finishes. He was favored to win, but that made a difficult day even tougher.

“There was pressure for sure,” Gardner said, after crossing the finish line in 15:26.8. “But I think it was mostly the pressure I put on myself. There is pressure every race.”

Mark Boyle led Corner Canyon to its first team title with a second-place finish and a time of 15:32.7. Skyridge senior Andrew Crowther finished third with a time of 15:43.5, while his teammate, sophomore Creed Thompson was fourth with a time of 15:43.6.

While Boyle was thrilled with his finish, he felt Caleb Johnson’s ninth place (16:03.6) was the key to their victory.

“My plan was to beat all the Skyridge boys, and that’s what I did,” Boyle said. “Caleb Johnson had a really good race. He was our seventh man, and he came in third (on the team).”

Johnson said as he was running someone told him what they needed from him to win the team title.

“I saw Skyridge guys in front of me, and that helped give me motivation,” he said.

The boys said they’ve worked for this moment since summer workouts.

“At the beginning of the season we knew we had a really good team,” Boyle said. “But every race we weren’t beating Skyridge, so it’s kind of an upset. It’s really awesome.”

5A girls individual results:

  1. Carlee Hansen, Woods Cross, 18:05.2
  2. Grace Burnett, Skyline, 18:08.9
  3. Laurie Murphy, Bountiful, 18:21.5
  4. Karli Branch, Corner Canyon, 18:37.6
  5. Heidi Sumsion, Springville, 18:40.5
  6. Elisabeth Ferrell, Farmington, 18:41.8
  7. Shanee Harris, Box Elder, 18:43.9
  8. AnnaBeth Templeman, Springville, 18:47.4
  9. Trisha Thompson, Bountiful, 18:47.9
  10. Sidney Preator, Timpanogos, 18:48.7
  1. Michelle Christian, Woods Cross, 18:55.8
  2. Mariah Skinner, Springville, 18:59.6
  3. Morgan Jensen, Alta, 19:00.3
  4. Jaroldeen Oveson, Timpview, 19:02.9
  5. Caroline Rupper, Brighton, 19:06.9
  6. Abbie Randall, Wasatch, 19:08.3
  7. Jane Fredrick, Olympus, 19:12.3
  8. Liza Sybrowsky, Timpview, 19:13.0
  9. Anna Sophia Rorrer Warrant, Bountiful, 19:18.1.

5A boys individual results

1. Grant Gardner, Springville, 15:26.8; 2. Mark Boyle, Corner Canyon, 15:32.7; 3. Andrew Crowther, Skyridge, 15:43.5; 4. Creed Thompson, Skyridge, 15:43.5; 5. Thomas Boyden, Skyline, 15:45.4; 6. Jason Davis, Woods Cross, 15:50.8; 7. Alex Harbertson, Corner Canyon, 15:55.8; 8. Ian Valentine, Alta, 16:02.6; 9. Caleb Johnson, Corner Canyon, 16:03.6; 10. Dalton Mortensen, Bountiful, 16:04.4; 11. Ben Brockbank, Skyridge, 16:04.8; 12. Skyler Spence, Olympus, 16:04.9; 13. Nate Beltran, Corner Canyon, 16:09.0; 14. Isaac Berlin, Timpanogos, 16:10.1; 15. Calvin Boyce, Timpview, 16:10.9; 16. Arik Manwaring, Corner Canyon, 16:13; 17. Davin Thompson, Skyridge, 16:14.0; 18. Sam Sanft, Timpview, 16:18.8; 19. Jalen Anderton, Farmington, 16:20.4; 20. Jackson Dymond, Olympus, 16:21.4.

5A girls team results:

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  1. Springville 73; 2. Timpview 105; 3. Bountiful 112; 4. Skyline 113; 5. Olympus 133; 6. Timpanogos 184; 7. Farmington 189; 8. Corner Canyon 190; 9. Brighton 234; 10. Wasatch 252; 11. Woods Cross 260; 12. Highland 310; 13. Maple Mountain 334; 14. Alta 334; 15. Roy 368; 16. Murray 447.

5A boys team results:

1. Corner Canyon 47; 2. Skyridge 59; 3. Farmington 144; 4. Timpanogos 152; 5. Springville 157; 6. Timpview 179; 7. Olympus 183; 8. Skyline 189; 9. Woods Cross 253; 10. Alta 267; 11. Bountiful 288; 12. Provo 315; 13. Jordan 343; 14. Murray 357; 15. Highland 361; 16. Box Elder 369.