LAYTON -- Pumpkins decorate the porch, spider webs and skeletons peek out from windows, and Davis Cross Country dominates -- it's all part of October traditions.
Continuing the long-time tradition of winning the Region One Cross Country Championships, the Darts ran to victory in both the boys and girls varsity races at Layton Park yesterday.
The boys' team, consisting of Austin Neuner (first, 15:33), Joe White (second, 15:41), Braden Cromar (third, 15:47), Preston Johnson (sixth, 15:57), Brad Nye (seventh, 16:01), Skylar Williams (ninth, 16:06) and Adam Mathias (seventeenth, 16:24), made it look easy in their fifteenth-straight region championship. They scored 19 points by placing their five scoring runners in the top seven and placing all seven runners in the top 17. The nationally ranked Darts proved that depth is part of their success, taking the top eight places in the JV race as well.
"We were trying to say, 'Let's race against ourselves as hard as we can. Let's really push ourselves today and push our team today and see what our best is today.' They really went after it and ran as a team, which is what we wanted to see. And every one of them seemed to do that, from our very fastest runners all the way down to our JV kids," said Coach Corbin Talley.
Neuner headed up one of the strongest Davis performances ever, with their top five times combined being the fastest a team has ran the region one course.
"It felt really good," said Neuner. "I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do but I came out and took the lead and was able to hold it."
Neuner led a pack that included Weber's Dustin Randall (fourth,15:51) and Viewmont's Layne McKenna (fifth, 15:52) as well as his teammates but pulled away in the last mile for the solid win.
"I just had to keep on telling myself how bad I wanted it," he said. "I had 'RC' written on my hand for Region Champ, to help remind myself of how bad I wanted this," said Neuner who completed his messages to himself with 'stay relaxed and stay focused' written up his arm. "This feels great. I've only been running for two years, but it's tradition for Davis cross country to come out and race our hardest here and next week at state hopefully too."
Besides Randall and McKenna, Syracuse's Preston Williams (eighth, 16:06) and Clearfield's Cody Dangerfield (tenth, 16:07) filled out the top ten.
Teamwise in the boys' race, Weber was second with 75 points, followed by Viewmont 103, Syracuse 103, Clearfield 123, Northridge 156, Fremont 169, and Roy 193. The top five teams earned a berth to the state championship meet next week.
In their fifth straight Region 1championship the Davis girls kept their traditions alive as well. Led by sophomore Shea Martinez (18:06) in a new course record, Meghan Hedquist (third, 18:45), Anni Anderson (fifth, 18:58), Tessa Brown (seventh, 19:06), Abby Frodsham (eighth, 19:12), Madi Holt (tenth, 19:24) and Joanna Boyd ( eleventh,19:28) all placed in the top eleven to bring home the title with 24 points. Their JV team took the top 18 spots in the JV race as well.
Martinez's time lowers the old course record (by Fremont's Jamie Stubbs) by four seconds.
"It was really hard," said Martinez. "I don't know why it was really challenging. I've run the course before, it's not like it was a new course, but I don't think I prepared as good as I could have. It's just hard to run sometimes."
Martinez made hard look easy as she bolted to the lead in the first mile and only widened it as the race went on. Her nearest competitor was Syracuse's Sharlie Dimick, who overtook last year's champion Meghan Hedquist for second place in 18:42. Viewmont's Lyzee Rasmussen (fourth, 18:54) and Sieraa Chowen (ninth, 19:21) and Weber's Karlee Deeter (sixth, 19:01) filled out the top 10.
"We had a team goal of breaking the top five team record and we were able to do that, which was way fun," said Davis girls' Coach Janae Richardson. "I think with our program the good thing about it is that the ones that aren't on the varsity team see how fun it is to be at the top and they fell that energy and excitement and I think that carries on to the next year."
"They're a good team," said Viewmont coach Melissa Fox about Davis. "They're something that every team should aspire to be. It's fun to run with them, but you don't like it at the same time. And you can't complain about good athletes."
Viewmont was second with 66 points, with the next four teams duking it out in a stranglehold for the remaining berths to state. Fremont was third with 108, Syracuse was fourth with 109, and Roy grabbed the final spot with 109, losing to Syracuse on the sixth runner, but beating Weber by just one point.
Weber finished sixth with 110 followed by Clearfield with 172 and Layton with 257.
The top five teams will run next week at the state championships on Oct 20. at Sugarhouse Park.