Three in a row! The Monticello boys cross country team convincingly brought home the 1A state trophy for the third consecutive year, while the Lady Bucks came out and surprised by grabbing the second place 1A girls trophy.
Monticello led a strong contingent from San Juan County as local runners dotted the finish line in several races.
The Monticello boys have ample prospects for another trophy next year with only one senior in the top seven. But that senior is a good one, Easton Nielson, who left his stamp on the 1A ranks and the 2013 season in impressive fashion, fashioning an 18 second win to grab individual medalist honors.
Nielson is the first individual boys state champion for Monticello since 1996, when Jordan Jensen led the Bucks to a state championship under the coaching tutelage of Mike Pehrson.
Easton also joins sister Macee (Nielson) Black, who won two individual titles for the girls in 2007 and 2010 and dad RT Nielson, who coached the Buckaroo girls to five state titles in the 1990s.
Easton’s 2013 time of 16:41 is the second fastest winning time since 2008. Nielson was a runner in all three state championships for Monticello. And each year he improved dramatically.
After placing 18th as a sophomore in 18:36, Nielson improved to 11th as a junior and lowered his time by nearly a minute to 17:42. He improved another minute his senior year to become the champion.
Two other Buckaroos, Jens Brewer and Sheldon Black, have also run in all three state championships for the Bucks. And two more, Tyler Bird and Kyler LaRose, have been on the last two. Brewer, Black, Bird and LaRose are all underclassmen. See what I mean about ample prospects for next year?
The Buckaroo boys have now won eight state championships overall. The Bucks first won a state championship in cross country in 1979, coached by the legendary Joe Wolfe Davis.
Mark Hugentobler coached the Bucks to two state championships in 1988 and ‘90. In addition to Pehrson in 1996, Kent Rowley was the coach when the Buckaroos won in 2000. Current coach Jeff Hunt picks up his third consecutive state title.
Sophomore Bailey Goodwine led the Buckaroo gals to that second place finish by grabbing fifth place herself.
She is joined in the top ten by freshman Kendal Harris, who was eighth. Zoe Chadwick (14), Cambria Welch (24), and Nancy Johnson (29) completed the Buckaroo scoring. Also running for the Lady Buckaroos are Ashley Hoggard and Lindsey Crowley.
The win was a strategic one for the Buckaroos, who, before the state finals, set their sights on two-time defending champ Panguitch and last year’s runner up Wayne.
Although the Bobcats from Panguitch easily defended their title, taking the top three spots for the second year in a row with the same three girls, the Buckaroos pulled out a close win over Wayne, 67-74 to bring that second place trophy home.
The Ladies from Monticello weren’t so much going for time, they were just looking to finish ahead of Wayne. And they did just that as Harris finished one spot ahead of the Wayne second runner, and Chadwick and Welch finished three spots in front of the Wayne third and fourth runners respectively.
The Bucks clinched the second place trophy when Johnson, the fifth placer for the Bucks, finished two seconds and one spot ahead of Wayne’s fifth place runner.
The win is the highest finish for the Lady Buckaroos since 2000, when they claimed their most recent state championship with Sanford Randall as coach.
Overall, the girls from Monticello have won 12 state cross country titles, starting in 1982, when Davis coached the girls to six titles in a row.
RT Nielson took over the coaching ranks in the 1990s and led the girls to five trophies, including four titles in a row from 1992-95. His fifth came in 1999.