It's not Christmastime yet, but for high school runners across top of Utah, it's the most wonderful time of the year -- cross country season.
With most teams competing in their first 5K of the season already, top of Utah teams are looking fast not only in their regions, but in the state and even nationally.
With a girls win and a boys' second place at the opening Grass Relays meet, it looks to be more of Davis, Davis, Davis this season.
The girls team returns its top 5 scorers from last year's state 5-A championship team and is ranked in the top 20 nationally. With a 1-2 punch of Ellie Child and Shea Martinez, followed by other solid runners they'll be tough to beat.
While the boys team suffered a loss to American Fork that first week, it's serving to build a symbiotic rivalry, where Davis hopes to come out on top. With both teams ranked nationally by Espn.com as the fifth and sixth best teams in the nation, they'll be going back and forth the entire season, making each other better.
Davis will look for dominance behind the efforts of Alex Hedquist and Andrew Aposhian.
Syracuse and Weber will be pressuring Davis on both the boys and girls sides behind the efforts of Landon Greenhalgh (Syracuse) and Matt Daines (Weber) for the boys and Sharlie Dimick (Syracuse) and Sam Heaton (Weber) for the girls.
Other Region 1 teams will open their seasons this week at the Pre-region meet on Tuesday, the City-County meet on Wednesday or the Murray Invitational on Friday.
Last year at the state meet, Bonneville was a surprise to everyone but themselves as the runner-up team in the boys race. This year the team is looking to turn that runner-up position into a state championship behind the efforts of Cade Perry and Colby Myers.
The Lakers' main competition within the region will come from Sky View and Box Elder. Box Elder will be led by standout Adam Hendrickson. Within the state a regionally ranked Mountain View will be tough to beat.
For the girls, Mountain Crest's huge 100-plus member team will be hard to suppress. Miranda O'Very and Tori Parkinson lead a talented team. Box Elder will also be competing for the region title with Hannah Malone leading the pack.
Other individuals to watch are Bonneville's Stephanie Toomer, Roy's Amy Matson and for the Roy boys Jantzen Read.
The girls region race could be tight between Woods Cross and East who both return most of their top scorers. Woods Cross will be led by Millika Holbrook.
Bountiful's Waverli Windmeir and Clearfield's Nicole Bogue are strong returners for their teams.
For the boys again, Bountiful and Woods Cross will be fighting for the team title. Woods Cross from behind the efforts of Taylor Dillon and Bountiful with Marcus Lindmeir.
Clearfield's Cody Dangerfield will also be in the mix for the top region spot.
Coming off a disappointing second place in state last year, the nationally ranked Ogden girls are running a tough team that isn't taking anything for granted.
Led by Sarah Feeny, who placed second in last year's state meet, and turned in a win at the Highland Invitational last week, their team is looking stronger than any other in all state classifications.
In the shadow of the girls, the Ogden boys team has developed into a powerhouse that will also be tough to beat this season. Senior Jordon Cross placed second at Highland and he leads a strong team of boys that are hungry for a repeat state championship and hoping to garner a national ranking as well.
In region they could be challenged by Bear River, who returns all seven of their varsity runners, led by Tanner Anderson.
Individual runners to watch include Ben Lomond's Sterling Brandley and for the girls Bear River's Katelyn Cunning, and Morgan's Andrea Millburn.
After their third place in state last year, the St. Joseph High girls cross country team returns Lyna Garcia, who besides leading her team will be challenging for the individual 1aA title. Connor Letendre will lead the boys charge.
Layton Christian returns Ignacio Baeza to lead their boys team.