Top of Utah cross country has produced its share of stars and Wednesday's state championship meet will showcase this year's fastest. While the individual stars are sure to shine, the girls team at Davis High School has a constellation of runners which will work to outshine any other teams, current and previous.
The state cross country championship begin at 11 a.m. at Sugarhouse Park in Salt Lake with 10 races on tap. The first in the 1-A girls race, winding up with the 5-A boys battle at 3:30 p.m.
The race finish is nearby Highland High School.
The Darts girls team, ranked No. 1 one in the country by dyestat.com and No. 3 by runnersworld.com, has a cadre of runners that gelled this season to become dominant at state and national cross country meets.
"What's taken us to the next level is just being unselfish," said coach Corbin Talley. "They're so willing to push really hard for each other in workouts and in races, in everything. They're just really close knit and a special group because they will sacrifice for each other. And they're so tough. This is a tough group of girls; they don't complain. They just get after it."
Talley has coached the top 5-A girls team for the past three years and said that this year's team is gunning for the state title and the team course combined record, 93:49, set in 1999 by Bingham High School.
They'll face good competition from this year's Bingham team and American Fork.
Aubrey Argyle, Taylor Cox and Ashley Tyndall paced the Darts last week at region. They'll face strong challenges from other Region 1 runners like Northridge's Courtney Wayment and Syracuse's Isabella Williams.
The 5-A boys race will be a race for second place behind a dominant American Fork team. Lone Peak, Bingham, Riverton and West Lake will be vying with Davis for the runner-up spot, or a possible upset.
"We just have to have everybody perform," said Talley. "We just have to really have a tight one through five gap. Our three, four and five runners have to really perform, because that is where all the points are scored. It's such a crucial area."
Davis runners Skylar Williams, Josh Ward and Logan Mackay ran well at last week's region meet. Region 1 included strong efforts from Weber, Fremont and Syracuse. Individually, Fremont's Kaden Winter, Weber's Will Palmer and Devon Jennings, and Viewmont's Dallin Leatham will angle for a podium spots.
In the 4-A ranks, Ogden High girls and boys will have to outrun Region 7 powerhouses Skyline, Timpanogos and Orem for their state titles.
"We haven't ever done a double title," said Ogden coach Alydia Barton. "They're both in the running for a title, and both of them winning would make history at Ogden High."
The girls team will be led by senior superstar Sarah Feeny. Feeny will also be shooting for the state course record.
"The girls have come a long way this season," saidBarton. "The training and work they've done this last month, they've gotten stronger."
Barton said that the girls caught the Ogden boys vision and now believe they have a chance at the title.
"The boys' team has been committed all season," said Barton. "They have a beautiful sign on the locker room wall and they're checking their goals off."
Box Elder's Hannah Malone, Mountain Crest's Mirando O'Very and Clearfield's Dawnavyn Johnson and Woods Cross' Millika Holbrook could also find themselves in the front pack.
On the boys side, Sky View's Conner Mantz, Ogden's Mike Buckley and Justin Sheets, Box Elder's Tanner Blaylock and Bonnevilles' Andy Penman are coming off strong Region 5 runs.
Region 6 runners Jacob Stone (Woods Cross) and Kendall Thompson (Clearfield) and Ryan Searle (Clearfield) could challenge for a podium spot.
Bear River girls and boys will take their squads to the state meet, but will face powerful Park City and Stansbury. Ben Lomond boys will run a full squad, while the Ben Lomond girls will take individuals Marcie Weloth and Sydney Cheshire.
St. Joseph boys look strong after a win at their region meet. Individuals Meghan Clare and Vicki Barrera will compete for the individual title. Chris O'Brien and Cayden Jones pace the Region 18 champion St. Joseph boys.
Layton Christian Academy's Ida Virta also qualified for the state 2-A meet individually.