On a perfect fall day at Sugarhouse Park on Wednesday, October 23 the Monticello High School cross country teams toed the line for a shot at glory in the boys and girls 2A State Championship races.
Having transitioned to the 2A classification this season, the Monticello teams ran against mainly unfamiliar individuals and teams. After dominating 1A for the past eight seasons and winning six state titles, this time the boys came into the race as the dark horse.
The 2A girls were first on the state course and it quickly became apparent that the Lady Buckaroos were determined to have a solid showing. Freshman Adri Bird and sophomore Lily Long quickly fell into the lead pack.
When it was all said and done, Bird finished second overall behind Region 16 foe Elizabeth Zwahlen of North Summit who won the state championship with an impressive time of 18:36.
Bird nipped Katy Kelly, the 2018 state champion from Millard, in the last fifteen yards of the race to claim a race time of 18:44. To put those times in perspective, amongst all classifications 1A-6A, Zwahlen and Bird claimed the 12th and 19th best times of the meet and would have been on the podium in every classification. Not too bad for a couple of small-town 2A runners.
Next to finish for Monticello was Long, who shaved over 45 seconds off her time in the 2018 1A race to finish 8th this year with a time of 20:14. Junior Kennedy Brewer also had a great race, lopping almost two minutes off her time last year to place 24th overall with a time of 22:36.
Junior Serra St. Clair came home next with a time of 23:46, which was good enough for 35th place. The final Lady Buck scoring runner across the line was senior Macy Badger who claimed 58th place with a 26:19 and secured a fourth place finish for the team.
Sophomore Halle Morrison and senior Kaitlyn Morrison were the last Monticello runners to finish with times of 28:15 and 31:04 – good enough for 62nd and 67th places respectively.
Coach Kasey Harris did a tremendous job with a young team in 2019 and seemed very pleased with how the girls ran at state. The Lady Bucks improved from week to week and seemed to peak at the right time.
Brighter days are ahead for the MHS girls cross country program as they hope to add some depth to next year’s team.
Roughly an hour after the conclusion of the girls race, the 2A boys stepped up to the start line for the opportunity to win a state title. Although they came into the race as underdogs, the Monticello runners appeared determined to live up to the high standard set by Buckaroo teams of the past.
Just like in the girls race, Monticello’s top two runners – juniors Cory Bunker and Alan Pettit – joined the early leaders. But as the race wore on, the top two runners from Rowland Hall and Wasatch Academy separated themselves from the pack and cruised to victory with times of 15:51 and 15:55.
Bunker hung tough for MHS to claim third place overall with a time of 16:38. Pettit also finished strong in 5th place, logging a time of 17:02. It was a nice improvement for both runners over their 2018 1A title race effort.
Buckaroo junior Eric Montague was next to finish for the Buckaroos when he crossed the line in 18:24 to claim 26th place overall. Not too far behind was sophomore Bailey Walker, in 39th with a time of 19:13.
Freshman Josh Wheeler had a nice first state race, finishing in 19:58 for 51st place. His time gave Monticello a solid third place 2A finish.
Two Bucks also running in their first state meets were junior Taw Robinson and freshman Jacob Johnson. They ran times of 20:12 and 21:02 respectively to claim the 55th and 68th places in the race.
Coaches Jeff Hunt and Brad Bunker’s team seemed to improve each week and peaked at the right time. The future for the boys team is also bright with every state runner returning next year for another shot at a state title.
Congratulations to both teams on a successful 2019 cross country season and we look forward to next year.