Top of Utah cross country teams are using last week’s state cross country championships as a springboard into national postseason meets, whether it be from a positive performance or a disappointing one.
“We continue on, the season’s not completely over,” said Cade Perry, who voiced disappointment at the state meet when his Bonneville High School team came in second in the state 4-A boys race.
Bonneville will join other top Utah cross country squads at the Nike Southwest Regional Meet in Mesa, Ariz., on Nov. 17, where they will compete against teams from Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada to earn a spot at the prestigious Nike Cross Nationals set for Dec. 1 in Portland.
The top two teams in each of the eight competing regions across the U.S. win a spot at the Portland race, with four at-large berths available as well.
“The first item of the agenda is to run to our potential,” said Bonneville coach Debbie Perry of her team’s goals for the Nike Southwest Regional Meet. “We’ve had a lot of good races along the way and pieces coming into place, but at the state meet not everything came together. In a nutshell, we want to put all the good pieces that we have together and to really express the potential that they have as a team, to finish the race saying, ‘That was everything we could have done.’ ”
Bonneville will face some of its toughest competition at Regionals from it’s home state. American Fork won the regional last year, and Davis is hoping to earn a berth to nationals and defeat its long-time rivals.
“It wasn’t what we wanted,” said Davis’ Preston Johnson of the 2012 state meet results. “We took second. But as a team, that was our best today. Everyone pushed themselves and it’s a good starting point for going into track and the rest of the year for regionals and national meets.”
The Herriman boys, who beat the Lakers on a tie-breaker at the state meet, and the Ogden boys, who won the state 3-A class state championship, will also be focusing on breaking into the top four teams and earning a trip to Portland.
For the girls, Davis is also hoping to improve their performance at the Nike regional meet. Even though they won the state 5-A title, the 3-A Park City girls had the fastest team time of the day, and the Ogden girls raced their best combined time ever at the state meet, just one minute behind Davis.
“I didn’t feel like I had my best race,” said Davis’s Ellie Child, who was third overall. “That’s just how running is up and downs. We’ll get it at region in Arizona.”
Her coach, Corbin Talley, agreed. “That wasn’t our best race. No way. When we get to Regionals, we’ll pull it off.”
Individually, Ogden’s Sarah Feeny, Davis’ Shea Martinez and Child will be looking to place in the top five. The top five runners at each regional who don’t belong to a qualifying team also earn a spot at the Nike Cross National Meet.