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Dealing with a tumultuous year in 2020 has forced a lots of adaptation.

Behind all of the frustrations, disappointments, anxieties and disruptions have been valuable lessons \u2014 if only everyone is smart enough to find them.

That has definitely been the case for Utah Valley high school athletes, who have had to face plenty of challenges beyond just what they face in the normal course of competition as the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted just about everything.

But they have done it.

It has rarely been straightforward and certainly not been easy, but the boys and girls, coaches and administrators have found ways to navigate through the obstacles that have been in their way.

This holiday season is a time of hope, a time to look toward the future.

So here is a list of wishes for all of those participants as they get ready for a great 2021:

Moments to enjoy

It\u2019s been one of the most oft-repeated refrains of the year as players and coaches have talked constantly about enjoying every moment.

From the last spring sports games before everything shut down to the cobbled together contests in June to the uncertainty of the fall and winter, everyone had to make the most of what they had.

This pandemic has taught everyone that \u2014 regardless of outcome \u2014 doing what you love is precious and should be treasured because you do not know for certain if it will be taken away.

This wish is that everyone will continue to remember that lesson for years to come.

Unifying experiences

So often the world is portrayed as being divided by different qualifiers. If a team lets itself be divided, however, it is almost certainly doomed to fail.

Instead players and coaches have to focus on shared goals and the importance of common ground. Each individual on a team brings their own strengths and weaknesses to the table but together they can be so much stronger.

Stressful situations force teams to rely even more on each other, a lesson hopefully these athletes will carry into their homes and communities throughout their lives.

Valuable sacrifices

When the state of Utah started testing high school football players in preparation for the state semifinals, it was thought that the rate of positive COVID-19 tests would likely be 25% or more. Instead it was closer to 3%.

While that may surprise some, anyone who has been around high school athletes know they understand the value of making sacrifices to achieve bigger goals. They were willing to take the steps to limit their risks with the virus and were rewarded by playing their games.

On the other hand, one of the biggest sacrifices was made by all of the spring sports participants as they gave up their season for the good of their community. No, that wasn\u2019t what they wanted but their sacrifice was tremendously valuable.

Hopefully all of the athletes have realized that giving up something good for something better is something that will benefit them throughout their entire lives.

Appreciation for relationships

In a time when players have been separated because of shutdowns and quarantines, they have had to turn to their teammates for their support system.

Some gathered on car tailgates in parking lots while socially distanced, while others put together text message groups or found other ways to communicate.

Players need to be able to rely on those around them when things get tough and this wish is hoping they never forget to have a support base and to be a part of the support base of others.

Hope for the future

It\u2019s so easy to get down after a loss or after a tough year. Sometimes the negatives feel overwhelming.

But one of the most important lessons that sports teaches is resiliency. There will be another game, another opportunity, something else to work for, a reason to keep pushing to improve.

After a year that has demanded as much as 2020 demanded of Utah Valley student-athletes, the importance of hope for 2021 and beyond is impossible to quantify.

This final wish is that the players, coaches, administrators, officials, parents and fans will be able to tap into that hope during this holiday season, that they will be able to keep their eyes looking forward to the great things that are to come.

Happy Holidays!

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An iron-clad contract helped Skyridge win the 6A boys state cross country championship.

The Falcons finished 2-3-4 in the 3.1-mile race at Solider Hollow in Midway on Thursday to earn the school\u2019s first boys team title since its doors opened in 2016.

While Creed Thompson, his brother Davin and Seth Wallgren finished 2-3-4 for Skyridge, American Fork junior Nathan Jaster \u2014 who was 19th in the state finals as a sophomore \u2014 made a big push in the final mile of the race and sprinted past the field to the individual Class 6A title.

The Thompsons and Wallgren led the race at the first mile. Creed Thompson still held the lead at the second mile but Jaster moved up from seventh to third. He took over in the final mile to win by nearly 11 seconds.

\u201cI decided to be a little more strategic taking it out,\u201d Jaster said. \u201cSome of the times coming in (earlier races) were kind of slow. The strategy paid off because I had a lot more energy at the end and it worked out. It\u2019s super hard having hills at the beginning of the race.\u201d

Jaster said his older brothers and his father all ran cross country and once he tried it, he was hooked. The tradition at American Fork meant a lot to him as well.

\u201cI look up to all my teammates, of course, and everybody knows Casey Clinger (a former Gatorade National Runner of the Year) and all the other American Fork runners who have gone to BYU,\u201d Jaster said. \u201cWinning this race was a big surprise. I was more than happy just trying to win as a team and getting into the top three was my goal.\u201d

The Skyridge runners all signed a contract at the beginning of the season of their own creation.

\u201cThis team has such incredible self-discipline,\u201d Falcons coach Jamie Alvizo said. \u201cThe things these boys do outside of regular practice in just insane for a high schooler. They put away their phones at 9 p.m. and all go to bed. They don\u2019t eat sugar the entire season. They are so diligent with their nutrition and hydration. They understand that to be at the top they have to look at more than just putting in miles. They have really built such a great culture where everyone feels on board. One through seven, they are all part of the plan.\u201d

The other two scoring runners for Skyridge were senior Kade Hansen in 23rd place and junior Seth Kjar in 27th.

\u00a0Creed Thompson said he will run for Ed Eyestone at BYU next season.

\u201cLast year it was cool to get the individual title, especially because I was the underdog coming in,\u201d he said. \u201cI\u2019ve worked my butt off with everyone else here all year and the past four years. Winning the team title means way more because that\u2019s what matters. That\u2019s really going to start a team legacy and help make the team good for years to come. Jaime deserves it. She\u2019s the best coach ever and finally getting her a title really means a lot.\u201d

American Fork, led by Jaster and Jayden Fitzgarrald (seventh place), pushed Skyridge to the end but the Falcons held on for a 57-62 win.

5A Boys

For the second straight season, Farmington held off Timpanogos to claim the 5A boys state team title.

The T-Wolves suffered some bad luck when one of their top runners, senior Isaac Berlin, fell sick after the region race and hadn\u2019t recovered enough to finish at the state meet where he was projected, likely the top ten. Both Farmington and Timpanogos had three runners in the top ten finishers, but the Phoenix had its five scoring runners in the top 12 and edged out the T-Wolves 50-44.

\u201cFor our boys it was heartbreaking,\u201d Timpanogos coach Jody Benson said. \u201cWe knew it would be tough. We thought Orem would be our toughest competition but Farmington ran the best race of their whole season. We did the best we could do at that point but didn\u2019t have enough for today.\u201d

Benson said Farmington had a great start on the challenging course at Soldier Hollow Golf Course and it took a courageous effort from his runners to earn the second-place trophy.

\u201cWe had to fight hard to pass on course because there\u2019s really no good passing area,\u201d Benson said. \u201cFarmington was beating us pretty badly with a mile left and we made a huge surge, but didn\u2019t have enough at the end.\u201d

One of those that surged as senior Luke Douglas, who turned in a time of 17:07.1 to finish second behind Bountiful\u2019s Dalton Mortensen (16:41.5).

Douglas, who finished sixth in last year\u2019s race at Sugarhouse Park, said Berlin was on his mind as he moved past several runners from fifth place to second in the final 400 meters.

\u201cWe were definitely coming to win,\u201d Douglas said. \u201cIsaac would have been up with me but he was sick. I think we did the best we could and I\u2019m really proud of all my teammates. I just wanted to win so bad. Getting second was a great surprise and I\u2019m happy with it.\u201d

Douglas\u2019 teammates Bronson Dameron and Thys Hansen finished fifth and seventh, respectively. Orem\u2019s Jayden Holdsworth came in ninth at 17:24.1.Orem finished third in the team race with 123 points.

Mountain View, behind Braden Minor in 15th place, came in fourth with 159 points.

Timpview was eighth, Springville ninth and Lehi tenth in the team competition.

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Lone Peak head girls cross country coach Courtney Meldrum couldn\u2019t help but shake her head and sigh as she thought about what had happened to her Knights during the 6A state race at Soldier Hollow in Heber on Thursday.

\u201cWelcome to 2020, right?\u201d Meldrum said with a rueful laugh.

Meldrum\u2019s squad came in as favorites to win the title for the second straight year and things appeared to be going to plan in the early going.

\u201cIn the first mile, we tried to run smart, run the hills smart,\u201d Lone Peak junior Eliza Mason said. \u201cThe third mile was the hardest. We tried to stay in it mentally but it\u2019s hard when the legs are tired.\u201d

But disaster struck for Knight senior Eliza Arrington, who had been one of the top runners for the team all year and was near the front of the pack.

\u201cShe looked so strong,\u201d Mason said. \u201cShe was in front of me but then I saw her go down. It threw me off a bit. I wanted to pick her up but I had to stay in it and focus on the end. It was shocking, honestly.\u201d

After Arrington\u2019s collapse, Meldrum immediately to be there for her fallen runner.

\u201cShe said she just blacked out,\u201d Meldrum said. \u201cShe couldn\u2019t breath. She was laying there saying, \u2018I will finish! I will finish!\u2019 I must have had to shove her down like five times and tell that she wasn\u2019t going to finish right then. That\u2019s who she is. She\u2019s awesome.\u201d

Meanwhile the top five Knights \u2014 led by Mason\u2019s second place finish in a time of 20:25.3 \u2014 had all crossed the finish line.

\u201cIt\u2019s one of those moments as a coach where you feel torn,\u201d Meldrum said. \u201cI didn\u2019t get to see some of the runners finish because I was helping out on the course. You feel like you are needed both here and there. I\u2019m grateful these girls love each other, so when I have to be somewhere else, they support one another. That\u2019s a gift they give each other.\u201d

Senior Reagan Gardner had ended up third but went back along the course to see if Arrington was OK.

\u201cThose two have been Tweedledee and Tweedledum,\u201d Meldrum said. \u201cThat\u2019s what we call them. That\u2019s how it should\u2019ve finished, no matter what they would\u2019ve done to us.\u201d

Gardner ended up helping Arrington to make it along the course, although doing so risked disqualification.

\u201cThey disqualified Reagan at first because she had crossed the line and came back to get Eliza (Arrington),\u201d Meldrum said. \u201cUpon appeal, however, they overturned it because Arrington was already out because we had already helped her. Also, Reagan didn\u2019t cross the finish line again.\u201d

Even if the disqualification had stood and Lone Peak didn\u2019t have the scores of two of its top three runners, the Knights still would\u2019ve had the depth to win the title.

In the end, Lone Peak officially won the championship with a score of 37 points, 45 points in front of second-place American Fork.

\u201cIt is awesome,\u201d Mason said. \u201cWe wanted to put in our best and not let down. I was happy to finish and turn around to find the rest of the team right there. It\u2019s so helpful to have such a supportive team.\u201d

In addition to Mason and Gardner, the Knights also got counting finishes from junior Taylor Rohatinsky (seventh), junior Katie Bybee (eighth) and senior Anna Scholes (ninth).

\u201cThey are strong and courageous,\u201d Meldrum said. \u201cThey didn\u2019t give up. I\u2019m just proud of them for sticking in it. To put five in the Top 10, what a gift for them. They earned it.\u201d

Meldrum couldn\u2019t keep the emotion out of her voice as she talked about the seniors.

\u201cI\u2019ve had those girls for four years,\u201d Meldum said. \u201cI just love them. There are no other words to describe it. They\u2019ve been a joy to coach. It\u2019s been a blessing in my life to have them, to watch them grow and become who they are.\u201d

She and Mason both said having the trials of the 2020 season make the title even more special.

\u201cFor them to run through a year that hasn\u2019t been normal in any way, shape or form and never give up, if you look at them they smile a lot,\u201d Meldrum said. \u201cThey know who they are. They are happy people. That\u2019s the beauty of them.\u201d

Other top performances were put in by Pleasant Grove senior Sariah Hernandez, who finished fifth, and American Fork freshman Avalon Mecham, who ended up 10th. She was the first of five Cavemen runners who finished within 14 places of each other to get that runner-up finish.Daily Herald sports reporter Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or jlloyd@heraldextra.com. Twitter: @JaredrLloyd. Instagram: @JaredrLloyd.

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When a couple of the runners who have regularly finished near the top for the Springville girls cross country team had some tough stretches during the 5A state race at Soldier Hollow in Heber on Thursday, it might have been a big problem for the title hopes of the defending champs.

It didn't turn out that way for this Red Devil squad because \u2014 just like they have all season \u2014 other runners answered the call.

\"When we had a couple who didn't place, others were their to step up and fill their shoes,\" Springville head coach Samantha Smith said. \"We had runners who have been our No. 6 or No. 7 runners who finished as our No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 placers.\"

The overall depth and ability of the squad was on full display as the Red Devils ran away with their third straight 5A title, tallying a team score of 38 points. That was 131 points in front of second-place Timpanogos.

\"It's amazing,\" Red Devil sophomore Sarah Galbraith said. \"I love how accomplished you feel afterwards. It's such a great feeling to be able to celebrate as a team.\"

Galbraith, as she has for much of the year, led the way for Springville as she came in fourth overall in a time of 20:41.4.

\"It was definitely hard,\" Galbraith said. \"Throughout this whole season we have been training for hills but it is still painful. You have to stay as positive as you can and think of your end goal.\"

Smith wasn't at all surprised to see Galbraith perform at such a high level at state.

\"Sarah has been our most consistent runner all year,\" Smith said. \"She really ran well. The others have kind of yo-yoed back and forth.\"

In this race, it was Emily Sumsion (No. 6 overall), Lydia Templeman (No. 9 overall), Laurissa Blakey (No. 10 overall) and Lydia Felix (No. 15 overall) who provided the scoring in addition to Galbraith.

\"Laurissa did awesome to finish 10th and Lydia Templeman also ran a great race,\" Smith said. \"This is the second straight year Lydia Felix has had to see a teammate about to collapse and known she had to pick it up. She's had that job twice.\"

She explained that the team strategy was to not go out too quickly.

\"The girls ran super-smart,\" Smith said. \"In the first mile, we went out easier than we normally do. We then took off when we hit the downhill and didn't look back. We came and ran the Wasatch Invitational and the girls didn't love it. What I love is that this is a course where the strongest runners win. It's tactical and you have to use the downhills.\"

While victory at state has become a familiar situation for the Red Devils in the last few years, Smith recognized that the success in 2020 required the entire team to dig deep.

\"It's been crazy,\" Smith said. \"What we were able to do was thanks to our depth. Our junior varsity runners have been awesome. We had times where our JV team beat the varsity, thanks in part to quarantines. It's been much different this year but the girls have come in with a huge amount of gratitude to just be able to compete. A lot of places don't have that opportunity this year. They just wanted to be out there and it didn't matter what happened.\"

Galbraith said every year being able to bring home the title trophy is a special experience.

\"It's just as rewarding because we put in all the work,\" Galbraith said. \"We deserve it.\"

The top Utah Valley individual finisher was Timpview senior Brynn Esplin, who came in with a time of 20:06.5, 11 seconds behind Woods Cross senior Carlee Hansen. Timpanogos sophomore Raygan Peterson was third overall (20:38.3).

In the team competition, the Timberwolves did just enough to hold off third-place Mountain View for the runner-up spot, while Timpview (fifth), Orem (sixth), Wasatch (seventh) and Salem Hills (eighth) also had excellent performances.

"}, 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The signs of the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic on Utah high school sports have been easy to see during the first three weeks of action in the 2020 fall season:

But here is the good news: Overall, the careful plans put in place to allow high school athletes to compete seem to be working.

\u201cOverall we are very encouraged by the care and precautions that our member schools have taken to allow education-based activities to take place in a safe setting,\u201d Jon Oglesby, assistant director at the Utah High School Activities Association, said in a phone interview Monday. \u201cWe\u2019ve done a great deal of training. Our state health department in conjunction with local health departments have been unbelievable in trying to find solutions to some of the potential problems you could have in conducting activities. I think it is has really been an outstanding example of the partnership that can happen when people are working together to find solutions to complex problems.\u201d

As expected, there have been some situations where athletes tested positive for COVID-19, forcing teams to quarantine. Oglesby sympathized with the affected athletes but pointed to those instances as examples of diligence by schools and health departments.

\u201cHaving teams quarantine is taking place that the district level in conjunction with local health departments,\u201d Oglesby said. \u201cI think the fact that schools are actively checking and minimizing cases due to that is a positive. I don\u2019t think a team finding that there is a need for a quarantine can be a positive because that shows that we are able \u2014 in conjunction with health departments \u2014 to isolate issues before they become even more widespread. It is unfortunate that has happened but it is good that the measures are in place to be able to isolate them.\u201d

In addition to the testing, teams are using a variety of risk-reducing efforts including the use of masks and limits on certain types of contact.

Many teams have used fabric \u201cgator\u201d face coverings, which studies have indicated may actually be worse than having no face covering at all because of how they disperse particles that might spread the disease.

When asked about whether the UHSAA might address a health concern, Oglesby said that decisions about changing what are considered as acceptable face coverings would have to be made by the health departments.

While the UHSAA isn\u2019t involved in the quarantine or other health-related decisions, Oglesby said it has tried to be a resource to help teams find other opportunities when games have had to be canceled.

He said that the fact that the state uses a ratings percentage index, or RPI, method to seed teams in the state tournaments means that game adjustments and cancellations don\u2019t have the same impact they would\u2019ve had when the association used other methods.

\u201cThis is the ideal system to have to go through what we are going through with regards to postseason seeding,\u201d Oglesby said. \u201cThe RPI is calculated off of the games that are played. It is definitely an improvement on how things would\u2019ve been done in the old region-qualifying system.\u201d

The UHSAA is actively examining how health regulations may impact the upcoming state tournament competitions, the first of which is scheduled to take place in just over a month at the end of September.

\u201cIt\u2019s been big for our state-tournament venues to work with state and local officials to understand if we can hold our state tournaments there,\u201d Oglesby said. \u201cThere has been really good communication with a lot of people in a lot of the state. I think we are in a good place. We are trying to mitigate as much potential risk as possible.\u201d

One of the changes the UHSAA has already made is both moving and separating the annual state cross country meet, which is usually held at Sugar House Park in Salt Lake City. This year the 6A, 5A and 3A teams will compete at Soldier Hollow golf course in Heber, while the 4A, 2A and 1A teams will compete in Cedar City.

He hopes all of the successes don\u2019t result in anyone getting lax in their attention to the precautionary efforts.

\u201cIt doesn\u2019t mean that everything is fixed and it\u2019s time to pat ourselves on the back,\u201d Oglesby said. \u201cWe have to remain vigilant and work even harder to try to stay ahead of problems, to keep them at a micro level if and when they do occur.\u201d

His message to athletes, coaches, administrators, families and communities is to continue to be unified.

\u201cIt\u2019s important to remember that we are all in this together for one thing: To keep kids in the classroom and related to that is what we view as an extension of the classroom in education-based activities,\u201d Oglesby said. \u201cI think the entire state of Utah should be so encouraged by the positive response and the related work that our administrators, teachers, coaches, staff and student-athletes have willfully accepted to stay in the classroom and ensure we are able to stay in our education-based activity settings.

\u201cI would encourage everyone in the state to continue to do the best they can to mask up Utah, to social distance, to practice proper hygiene, to symptom check, to do everything that goes along with the best practices of ensuring health in today\u2019s world. Through our combined focus, we are going to be able to continue to run the race we have been running to maintain education in this COVID-19 era. I\u2019m extremely, extremely grateful that the team we have is the people of the great state of Utah.\u201d

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In one week, high school athletes in Utah will officially be back in action for the first time since the March shutdown \u2014 but where things will go from there is still a murky picture at best.

The Utah High School Activities Association discussed some concerns and issues during Tuesday morning\u2019s Board of Trustees teleconference meeting, emphasizing that the highest priorities are ensuring the safety of students while making school as normal as possible.

That\u2019s a tough balancing act when talking about sports during a global pandemic.

UHSAA affirmed its July 9 decision to continue with fall sports as planned but the situation is still fluid and there will be some significant changes to the traditional way things have been done in the past.

As outlined in its \u201cReturn to Play\u201d guidelines, the activities association reiterated the importance of steps like temperature and symptom checks, social distancing, wearing face coverings and having accurate rosters for the purpose of contract tracing.

Representatives from school districts along the Wasatch Front, including Alpine School District, talked about an agreement they made last week to limit the number of fans at all sporting events to 25% of capacity and some are planning to require tickets (unpaid in many cases) at every level of competition.

One of the questions discussed was why high school sports in Utah would allow fans when professional and college sports aren\u2019t allowing them at this point.

Tom Sherwood, principal at Brighton High School in Cottonwood Heights, said that high school athletes are made up of minors and that having them play sports where they could get hurt without their parents present creates an uncertain situation.

He also noted that high school venues in Utah are much smaller than those of college and professional sports, which makes them easier to manage as schools can manage the numbers of spectators and enforce distancing and face covering requirements.

He added that his district and others are also planning on livestreaming every event whenever internet access allows that to be the possible.

Another of the challenges the UHSAA faces is finding solutions when high schools in the Salt Lake City area are in the moderate-risk \u201corange\u201d phase while others across the state are in the low-risk \u201cyellow\u201d phase or the new-normal \u201cgreen\u201d phase.

Those situations may require extra flexibility and communication as venue changes are made or schedules are adjusted.

UHSAA executive director Rob Cuff told the board that he believes communication will be vital as the different teams, schools, districts and the state organization work to navigate the various challenges.

\u201cWe will need to communicate with county health departments with regards to venues and what we are doing,\u201d Cuff said. \u201cIt\u2019s so important that teams communicate in advance before games so they let fans know about restriction. We made the decision earlier that there would be no forfeits. If one team is not able to play, it will be considered no contest. If another team can play, then we will try to match it up with another team to be able to play a game.\u201d

While flexibility will be key to make sports a reality during COVID-19, UHSAA will not necessarily be flexible with its transfer rules.

There have been rumors of athletes from California, Arizona and Nevada moving to Utah in large numbers because they are unable to play sports in their home states but the UHSAA emphasized that such situations would require those athletes to meet current guidelines before being allowed to compete at the varsity level.

The reality, as many of those present acknowledged during the meeting, is that many decisions about how things will go this fall will be in the hands of state government leaders as well as local health departments.

The ideal is for every team, school and district to do everything in their power to be as safe as possible.

\u201cNo one wants to be the one who hosted a football game where there was an outbreak,\u201d Sherwood said. \u201cI\u2019ve met with our coaches and we\u2019ve talked about how this year we are in it for participation. It\u2019s not about championships. We don\u2019t even know if there will be championships. Our motivation is as pure as it can be and that is to enable kids to participate. We need to be responsible to keep the season going as long as we can. It\u2019s a different environment this year and we all need to do our part in this.\u201d

For updated information on the UHSAA’s “Return to Play” guidelines, go to http://uhsaa.org.

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It's January and that's a good time to consider the future.

So let's take stock of what we have learned about high school sports in recent years:

1. Size of school is only moderately useful in determining relative competitiveness

In Utah Valley, for example, Westlake has been one of the largest schools in the state for the last few years but that certainly hasn't translated into dominance for most of the Thunder athletic programs.

2. Regions are only moderately useful for scheduling

While geographic regions (that's a loose term, particularly for smaller classifications) may make sense for rivalries and convenience, they always had problems when it came to competitive balance.

Just ask anyone who competed in Class 6A's Region 4 compared to some of the other 6A regions for the last few years. Now with the ratings percentage index (RPI) seeding process, the regions matter even less.

3. Schools are trying to figure out where they fit in an era of RPI seeding

In some ways, RPI is great. The goal of getting the top teams to have the best chances to face each other in the later rounds of state tournaments is a laudable one, even if it is still going to have hiccups.

But if everyone is going to be seeded in the team sports based on RPI numbers, then why keep classifications and regions as they are presently constituted at all?

Maybe it's time to take the next step.

I spent some time recently discussing the concerns with Skyridge soccer coach Jerry Preisendorf and he suggested that our current model of every school having all their sports lumped in the same classification (with a few exceptions like Mountain View football) is flawed.

He mentioned the promotion-relegation model that is commonly used in international soccer and that concept intrigues me.

Since we already have such detailed computer formulas determining who plays who at state, why doesn't the Utah High School Activities Association take those numbers and use it to determine which sports at which schools belong in which classification?

Take, for example, the Payson and Timpanogos football programs, which are currently petitioning to become independent because of lack of numbers and their struggles to compete in their current classifications.

But the Timberwolves have excellent baseball and basketball programs, while the Lions are very, very good in wrestling.

If you want to look the other direction, how about looking at Lone Peak?

The Knights have enjoyed tremendous success in a wide variety of sports in the last few years -- but the Lone Peak softball team hasn't done very well.

It's true at almost every school that some athletic programs do well and others struggle -- so is it time to classify schools based on on-field performance instead of just enrollment numbers?

It's impossible to ignore that we've already started down that road with football, which is classified to some extent differently than other sports as evidenced by the Mountain View example.

There are roughly 150 high schools in Utah that play sports of some sort under the UHSAA umbrella, although not all schools field teams in every sport.

So here is the proposal I've been thinking about:

So for example this year Mountain View volleyball and Orem football would both move up from 5A to compete in 6A next year, while Timpanogos football, Payson and Spanish Fork girls soccer would have dropped from 5A to 4A.

Would it work? I don't see why the details couldn't be worked out, although transportation issues might be bigger.

Would it solve all the problems? No, since it wouldn't address issues like transfers, open enrollment or sports club discrepancies.

Would it be the best move?

Well, this is where it depends on your perspective.\u00a0

In some ways it would be more complicated -- fewer girls and boys basketball games back-to-back, for example.

Rivalries might be impacted significantly (although many of those are already affected with each reclassification).

But it would also be simpler, since the two-year reclassification process based on enrollment would be eliminated.\u00a0

The main goal would be to put as many programs competing at as close to the same level as possible.\u00a0

I don't agree it would solve everything -- but I'd love to see how it would work.

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The 2019 seasons of high school athletics in Utah County was one of major shakeups in the prep landscape, as well as many state championships won by local teams. Here\u2019s a look at the top 10 stories for high school sports in 2019.

1. New rating percentage index changes playoff system

One of the biggest changes to high school team sports in years was announced last January when the Utah High School Activities Association introduced the new playoff format.

The UHSAA\u2019s posted statement to explain its reason in going from the straight region standings seeding process that was previously used states: \u201cThe RPI system will be an accurate reflection of all regular and region/postseason games. Teams could be seeded into the state bracket based on their RPI ranking versus the previous region rotation which could result in the top teams in the same side of the bracket. Classifications with unbalanced regions will also have better representation in the state tournament.\u201d

The changes were implemented for the 2019 fall team sports (football, volleyball and girls soccer) and the reviews were mixed. For the first time, just about every team was invited to participate in their respective tournaments \u2014 which was good and bad, since some teams got wins while others ended up getting crushed.

2. Realignment again changes classifications around

It was time once again for the implementation of new regions and changing of classifications in the UHSAA\u2019s every-other-year reclassification process. The new alignment went into effect at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year.

In Utah Valley, the majority of the public schools were put in either Class 6A or Class 5A, with almost all being slotted in Region 4, Region 7 or Region 8. The new school in Eagle Mountain, Cedar Valley High School, started competing in Class 4A this year, as did Mountain View\u2019s football team.

While not unexpected, the results did create more inter-valley state playoff matchups in the fall \u2014 especially in Class 5A

3. Cedar Valley opens doors in Eagle Mountain

For the first time, the growing community of Eagle Mountain on the west side of Utah Lake is able to have its high school students stay in town. Athletic teams went through the ups and downs that come with being a first-year school as the Aviators got things started in August of 2019.

The biggest success was that of the girls soccer team, a squad that finished 12-6 and came in second in Region 10 (including beating the eventual state champs from Ogden).

The football, volleyball, cross country, boys golf and girls tennis teams finished their first seasons while the boys and girls basketball programs and the swimming programs are halfway through as they prepare to start 2020.

4. Successful coaches choose to step down

There is no doubt that there are going to be some big coaching shoes to fill at a number of high schools in Utah Valley. Coaching changes are part of high school sports but this year saw so high-profile changes.

Three examples are the retirements of Spanish Fork softball coach Don Andrews, Provo football coach Tony McGeary and Pleasant Grove volleyball coach Allyce Jones. While their reasons were different, they each left a huge mark on their respective sports and won\u2019t be easy to replace.

5. Orem wins third straight football title

After winning 4A titles in 2017 and 2018, it wasn\u2019t clear how the Tigers would do when they moved up a classification and played against bigger schools.

During the regular season, Orem had some ups and downs, losing four games (including three to in-state competition).

When it mattered most, however, the Tigers got impressive performances across the board including a heroic fourth-down touchdown run by senior Noah Sewell \u2014 the 2019 Utah Valley Football Player of the Year \u2014 in the championship as Orem again went all the way to the top.

6. American Fork boys basketball makes magical run to 6A title

Twice during the 2019 boys basketball season, 6A leviathans American Fork and Pleasant Grove clashed with the Vikings coming out on top in both Region 4 showdowns.

In order to get a third shot at Pleasant Grove, however, the Cavemen needed a miracle finish in the 6A semifinals against Davis. Thanks to a monumental effort by Tanner Cuff (the 2019 Utah Valley Boys Basketball Player of the Year) American Fork escaped with a two-point win in triple-overtime.

The Cavemen carried that momentum into the title contest against the Vikings, building a lead late and holding off Pleasant Grove to win the 6A state title.

7. Area schools sweep wrestling titles as Pleasant Grove wins seventh title in eight years

Utah and Heber Valleys have established an impressive reputation for success on the mats over the years and 2019 was no exception.

Cole Zorn and Maika Tauteoii may have been the only individual champs for Pleasant Grove but 16 total Viking wrestlers ended up placing to help rack up the 311.5 points the team had \u2014 44 more than second-place Layton \u2014 to get the seventh first-place trophy in eight years for the school.

Payson won its fourth state title in the decade, winning the 4A title, while Wasatch won the 5A championship.

8. Pleasant Grove, Mountain View volleyball secure state championship trophies

As the Vikings and the Bruins prepared for their respective volleyball title games, they knew they had their work cut out for themselves. Each had the No. 1-seeds (Copper Hills in Class 6A, Farmington in Class 5A) standing in the way of the title.

Both Pleasant Grove and Mountain View proved up to the task as they both won in four sets, making it another big day for volleyball in Utah Valley.

It was the fourth title in eight years for the Vikings, who have played in eight straight title games, while the Bruins won their first title since 1982.

9. Lone Peak golf and tennis continue powerhouse ways

Few schools are able to boast the type of dominance in any sport that the Knights have established in tennis and golf.

Lone Peak won all of the 6A state titles in both sports in 2019 as the boys tennis team won its fourth straight crown, the girls tennis team won its third straight championship, the boys golf team won its sixth title in seven years and the girls golf team won its third title in four years.

The Timpview girls tennis team and girls golf teams also won 5A titles.

10. Lone Peak and American Fork dominate 6A swimming

The Knight and Cavemen swimming teams spend a lot of time together, so it wasn\u2019t really surprising that they were all elated with their successes in the 2019 6A state swim meet at BYU.

At the end of the day, each school brought home one first-place trophy and one second-place trophy. American Fork won the girls swimming title and came in second in the boys competition, while Lone Peak won the boys meet and was the runner-up on the girls side.

Honorable mentions: Pleasant Grove baseball beats Lone Peak for 6A title, American Fork girls soccer wins second 6A title in three years, Provo and Lone Peak girls teams win state track and field crowns, Lone Peak and Springville girls cross country teams win championships.

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Every high school athletics program in Utah Valley is a little different.

Some are consistent championship contenders.

Some are just looking to make it to the playoffs.

Some are just looking to to a little better than last year.

And some are just trying to get started.

Did you know that there are 25 institutions in Utah Valley that compete in athletics as members of the Utah High School Activities Association?

There are of course the biggest schools (Westlake, Lone Peak, American Fork, Skyridge and Pleasant Grove) but the area also feature small private schools and charter schools like Telos, Rockwell and Utah Military Academy-Camp Williams.

Since the holiday season is all about coming together and dreaming big, here are three wishes for the sports programs of each high school in Utah County:

Class 6A

American Fork

  1. To finally win a 6A football title after two years of being runner-up.
  2. To continue to refill the pipeline of amazing cross country runners.
  3. To have teams play for each other like the girls soccer team did in 2019.

Lone Peak

  1. To have boys and girls golfers as committed and talented as the Knight tradition demands.
  2. To have a resurgence for boys basketball after a tough year in 2018-19.
  3. To see growth for the Knight softball program, which is one of few at the school that hasn\u2019t found a lot of success over the years.

Pleasant Grove

  1. To see head boys basketball coach Randy McAllister add a state title to his impressive career accomplishments.
  2. To care passionately about wrestling and the legacy of success on the mats for years to come.
  3. To have another girls volleyball coach continue the tradition of phenomenal performance in the sport.

Skyridge

  1. To savor the amazing talents of basketball players like Trevon Snoddy and Duncan Reid on the boys team, and Kylee Holland and
  2. Ally Blackham on the girls squad.
  3. To have the monumental success of the Falcon baseball team finally take that last step and win a state title.
  4. To see the young athletes on the volleyball team develop into stars and go for another big year.

Westlake

  1. To finally break through and win a few of those elusive Region 4 titles that have been so hard to come by.
  2. To having the Thunder boys soccer team stay healthy and play to the level it is capable of playing at.
  3. To continuing the impressive support for all of the teams, no matter how good or bad.

Class 5A

Lehi

  1. To see the amazingly talented Pioneer girls basketball team continue to knock down those 3-pointers at an elite rate.
  2. To have quarterback Creyton Cooper play his senior season at the same level of his brother Cam Cooper.
  3. To continue the proud tradition of Pioneer athletics at all of the beautiful new facilities.

Maple Mountain

  1. To have a few more families like the Halls (KJ, Jaren, Dawson, Kyson) and the Blanthorns (Derek, Garred, Tanner) keep developing athletes who contribute in a variety of sports.
  2. To see the boys and girls soccer teams have both health and cohesion on the field, a combination that might make them unstoppable.
  3. To have swimmers who continue to make such incredible waves in the pool as they have done throughout record-shattering careers.

Mountain View

  1. To have more players like Duce Anderson and Ben Mella who just love to compete so much that they will take on any challenge.
  2. To enjoy the thrill and satisfaction of seeing the Bruin volleyball team win the 5A state title.
  3. To see traditional powerhouse programs like cross country and track-and-field write their own success stories in the near future.

Orem

  1. To recognize all of the Tiger football players who embraced their roles \u2014 big or small \u2014 as they marched to a third-straight state title.
  2. To treasure the impact and dedication of long-time athletic mentors like Greg Sheide, Perry Wildeboer and Bob Steele.
  3. To see Taye Raymond conclude her impressive athletic career with plenty of success in track and field.

Payson

  1. To continue to develop tough, hard-nosed wrestlers who love competing against the best in the state.
  2. To have all the pieces come together for the Lion softball team, a squad which has had success and could get to the next level.
  3. To see all of the sports programs have dedicated, committed athletes and coaches who love representing their school.

Provo

  1. To see the football team finally end the rivalry winning streak of crosstown foe Timpview.
  2. To continue to develop more athletes who are actively recruiting by schools throughout the state and across the country.
  3. To have the baseball team get the right combination of pitching and hitting to make a deep playoff run for head coach Lance Moore.

Salem Hills

  1. To build off the No. 1 seed earned in football to establish the Skyhawks as perennial contenders.
  2. To see Brook Vance achieve all her basketball and track goals.
  3. To have the boys and girls basketball teams once again battling for Region 8 titles.

Spanish Fork

  1. To have a softball program that continues to value the rich history that has been in place for decades.
  2. To see the baseball team get back to the state championship and bring home another title.
  3. To see the youth development necessary for the football team to bounce back even stronger next fall.

Springville

  1. To have more state cross country success that results in more medals and trophies.
  2. To see the Red Devil boys basketball team force every team in 5A to beat them playing gritty, grind-it-out hoops.
  3. To produce soccer teams who battle with the same determination that the 2019 teams did.

Timpanogos

  1. To instill a sense of pride in the football players to keep them as Timberwolves instead of considering playing for other schools.
  2. To see the boys basketball team out-shoot and out-hustle its way to big success on the hardwood.
  3. To have the baseball team roar back after losing in the title game in 2019 to go all the way to the top.

Timpview

  1. To get the boys basketball squad to play at the level it is capable of playing at consistently throughout the season and in the playoffs.
  2. To add a dynamic passing attack to go with the football team\u2019s tough running and defense.
  3. To build a baseball team that is proud of its achievements and competes well in Region 7.

Class 4A

Cedar Valley

  1. To have the same impressive community support throughout 2020 that the athletic teams enjoyed in the fall of 2019.
  2. To grow the girls soccer team that already proved it can be a factor in Class 4A state competition.
  3. To see great inaugural campaigns for the basketball, wrestling, swimming, baseball, softball, boys soccer, track and field, girls golf, lacrosse and boys tennis teams.

Class 3A

American Leadership Academy

  1. To have a dynamic, dedicated player like Fielding Morley come around again.
  2. To see the boys soccer team continue a tradition of success.
  3. To build more legacies through superlative performances in all sports.

Maeser

  1. To develop the soccer programs so that they continue to compete for region titles and state playoff runs.
  2. To have the basketball program under Mas Watabe string a bunch of wins together in Region 14.
  3. To see students enjoying the athletic opportunities that go along with the unique school approach at the school.

Class 2A

American Heritage (American Fork)

  1. To continue to grow as a UHSAA institution as it competes with other member schools
  2. To have athletes develop physically and mentally in accordance with the school\u2019s faith-based format.
  3. To see the dedication and effort of the coaches recognized and appreciate by the athletes and the community.

Freedom Prep (Provo)

  1. To continue to grow as a UHSAA institution as it competes with other member schools
  2. To have opportunities for athletes in five sanctioned sports to learn more about teamwork and themselves.
  3. To see growth evident despite the score or the team record.

Merit (Springville)

  1. To provide plenty of positive experiences for athletes.
  2. To see the teams to exceed their own expectations and see the benefits of their work.
  3. To enjoy a supportive community atmosphere that fosters improvement and learning.

Rockwell (Eagle Mountain)

  1. To find many ways to bring out the best in the student-athletes as they push themselves.
  2. To have a program where things come together and it makes a run at a league title.
  3. To maintain the commitment and resources to give the players the best chance they can to succeed.

Utah Military Academy-Camp Williams (Lehi)

  1. To continue to grow as a UHSAA institution as it competes with other member schools
  2. To get enough athletes to sign up to fill the roster of every team.
  3. To understand the process and savor the little victories.

Class 1A

Telos (Orem)

  1. To give athletes another chance to learn the valuable lessons from sports.
  2. To find ways to have success both on and off the field/court.
  3. To continue to develop the athletic program as a key part of the school\u2019s overall objectives.
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Lehi senior Anna Martin and Skyridge juniors Creed and Davin Thompson competed in the 41st annual Foot Locker Cross Country Championships (FLCCC) National Finals Presented by Eastbay Saturday at Morley Field, Balboa Park in San Diego.

Creed Thompson had the best finish, ending up in 18th place (15:42.9) in the boys race with Davin Thompson came in 23rd (15:49.8).

Martin finished 25th in the girls race, coming in with a time of 18:12.6.

Zofia Dudek of Ann Arbor, Mich. and Josh Methner of Mount Prospect, Ill. captured first-place titles.

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Creed Thompson

Junior runner

Skyridge

The 2019 cross country season had been a good one for Skyridge junior Creed Thompson, who always found himself near the front of the pack. But he hadn't found a way to overcome other runners who were able to speed past him at the end.

So he changed his strategy for the 6A state boys cross country race at Sugar House Park last week, taking off earlier to try to build a big enough lead that the other runners couldn't catch up -- and it worked.

Thompson finished the course in 15.14.3, seven seconds faster than his closest competitor. His victory helped the Falcons finish third in the team competition.

\"State

Lone Peak\u2019s Eliza Arrington laughs as friends and family place items on her after she won the 6A girls race as part of the state cross country meet Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, at Sugar House Park in Salt Lake City. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

Eliza Arrington

Junior runner

Lone Peak

When Lone Peak athletic teams get ready to compete, you often can hear them chant: \"What time is it? Knight time!\" The Lone Peak girls country team -- and specifically junior\u00a0Eliza Arrington -- finally got their time at last week's 6A state girls cross country meet at Sugar House Park.

There were no surprises this year as the favored Knights dominated the contest with Arrington leading the way. She ended up winning the race, crossing the finish line in a time of 17:55.7 (more than 12 seconds faster than the second place finisher).

Arrington's individual championship along with third, fourth, sixth and 17th place finishes were plenty to give Lone Peak the team title as well.

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The Lone Peak girls cross country program has suffered through a couple of disappointing finishes in recent years.

The Knights had a shot to win in 2017 but finished third behind Pleasant Grove and American Fork.

Lone Peak looked like the favorite heading into the 2018 competition but ended up in second-place behind the Cavemen.

When would the Knights get over the top?

Lone Peak emphatically answered all the questions with a dominant performance in Wednesday\u2019s 6A state competition at Sugar House Park as four Knight runners finished in the Top 6.

The key to that success, according to Lone Peak head coach Courtney Meldrum, was getting back to enjoying the sport.

\u201cThese girls have no idea how good they really are,\u201d Meldrum said. \u201cWe haven\u2019t told them rankings or stats. We just wanted them to run happy. Our theme this year was doubt not, fear not. We didn\u2019t doubt ourselves and that was fun to watch as a coach.\u201d

With that mindset, it was fitting that fun-loving Knight junior Eliza Arrington ended up winning the race, crossing the finish line in a time of 17:55.7.

\u201cI felt like the first mile went a little slow but when it was time to go, I felt ready to go,\u201d Arrington said. \u201cThe hills were a strong point for me. It was also incredible to have Reagan Gardner next to me. It was actually scary when I started going because I heard people cheering for the runners behind me, so I felt like I had to go faster or I would regret it. It was a fantastic race.\u201d

Arrington\u2019s personality was highlighted by her bright blue mascara (worn for the meet because she lost a bet) and a bead necklace a friend\u2019s dad had traded for in the Amazon rainforest (which she put on after the race because someone dared her to wear it on the podium).

\u201cI just have fun with it,\u201d Arrington said with a grin. \u201cI just love running so much.\u201d

She said that getting the first girls cross country title in school history was something special.

\u201cIt\u2019s feels so good,\u201d Arrington said. \u201cLast year was really sad for us but it made us more determined.\u201d

Meldrum called the 2019 Knight squad a \u201cspecial group\u201d of kind, thoughtful girls who brought some magic to this team.

\u201cI knew they had it in them,\u201d Meldrum said. \u201cBut on any given day anything can happen. I\u2019m super-proud of them and I love them to death.\u201d

American Fork ended up in second place while Westlake came in fourth overall.

Skyridge\u2019s Creed Thompson wins 6A boys race, leads Falcons to third-place finish

Every runner has to know his strengths. That knowledge turned out to make a big difference for Skyridge junior Creed Thompson.

\u201cI had been close in every race this year,\u201d Thompson said. \u201cI was thinking about it and I knew I had to go early. I was feeling good after the first mile and felt that the pace was a little slow, so I went for it. I had to power through the final 800 meters but I did it.\u201d

Falcon head coach Jamie Alvizo said Thompson didn\u2019t win a race all season.

\u201cHe was second or third or fifth,\u201d Alvizo said. \u201cBut he learned his strengths. He knew he could be beat in the sprint at the end, so if the opportunity arose he was going to gap it early. He was able to build a big lead and it was so cool to see the pieces fall into place.\u201d

Thompson\u2019s individual title was a key aspect in Skyridge\u2019s third-place finish, the best of any Utah Valley 6A boys team.

\u201cWe knew state could be anyone\u2019s game,\u201d Alvizo said. \u201cWe just wanted to go out and run our race and be proud of how we did. This was exciting. Our goal coming in was to be in the Top 5 but we have hard workers.\u201d

For complete results, go to http://RunnerCard.com.

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Springville junior AnnaBeth Templeman pounded across the grass at Sugar House Park during the 5A state girls cross country race on Wednesday surrounded by hundreds of the best runners in the state.

But as she looked around, she saw the ones that really mattered most to her.

There was her younger sister, freshman Lydia Templeman, and her cousins, freshman Sarah Galbraith and freshman Madison Galbraith.

\u201cIt\u2019s so fun,\u201d AnnaBeth Templeman said. \u201cThe four of us were running as a pack and it gave me goosebumps. Whenever I\u2019m running and see one of them, it\u2019s like, \u2018let\u2019s go!\u2019\u201d

She quickly added that even though the other runners might not have the same direct family ties, she feels the same way about them.

\u201cEven with my teammates that I\u2019m not directly related to, I basically am anyway,\u201d AnnaBeth Templeman said. \u201cWhen it\u2019s tough, being with them all makes it worth it.\u201d

The tight-knit Red Devils used their connection as a springboard, vaulting to the top of the 5A ranks with another stellar performance in the state competition and successfully defending their state championship.

\u201cIt\u2019s inspiring to repeat,\u201d said AnnaBeth Templeman, who was the first Springville finisher as she came in fifth overall. \u201cI didn\u2019t think it would be as special but doing it with my cousins and friends like this, it\u2019s amazing.\u201d

Red Devil head coach Sam Smith said her girls executed their strategy to perfection.

\u201cOur plan was to go slow for the first mile and conserve our energy,\u201d Smith said. \u201cIt was scary, though, because there were five Farmington girls in front of us. They just had to trust the system. They took off on the second half of the race. Some of them really moved past a ton of girls on the final straightaway. We have so much balance that with our team it can be hard to predict who will finish No. 1 through No. 5, but that means if someone collapses, someone else is their to fill in their shoes.\u201d

Madison Galbraith was running well until the final stretch when she appeared to lose cohesion and could barely stagger across the finish line. She was treated by medical professionals after the race although Smith said it was nothing serious.

\u201cIt was like, \u2018oh, no,\u2019\u201d AnnaBeth Templeman said. \u201cBut she\u2019s amazing. She\u2019s someone we can always count on and she did finish. I\u2019m proud of her.\u201d

Smith said the care that the girls showed for each other from the beginning of the season made a huge difference in Springville\u2019s quest to repeat.

\u201cWe lost three of our top seven runners from last year and we had three freshman coming in, so we didn\u2019t know what to expect,\u201d Smith said. \u201cBut the juniors had to step up and educate the new runners on how things work for us. It was fun to watch them make the choice that they wanted to come back and win state again.\u201d

Lehi senior Anna Martin ended up finishing second overall behind Woods Cross junior Carlee Hansen.

The Red Devils didn\u2019t have a senior run in the state finals, so don\u2019t be surprised to see the Springville dynasty continue.

\u201cIt\u2019s super-exciting,\u201d Smith said. \u201cThings change so girls might not be as fast as they were when they were freshmen but we have established depth and tradition. Hopefully that means things will carry on for years to come.\u201d

Timpanogos finishes second in 5A boys race

Coming into the 5A boys competition, Timpanogos head coach Jody Benson knew his Timberwolves would need to be solid to compete with a talented Farmington squad.

\u201cI knew they would be out fast and we wanted to try to go with them,\u201d Benson said. \u201cWe did that but we weren\u2019t quite able to keep up with them at the end. It came down to one or two spots, and it\u2019s awesome when it is that close.\u201d

Timpanogos ended up having its fifth runner finish before the fifth Phoenix runner, but Farmington had just enough of an advantage in the earlier placings to get the state title by 13 points (70-83).

\u201cWe knew what we had to do and the boys gave it their best,\u201d Benson said. \u201cFarmington just had a little more. I told the boys that if we give it our all and take second, that\u2019s all you can ask.\u201d

Orem junior Taylor Knight had the best individual finish from Utah Valley, coming in third overall.

Cedar Valley builds program with first 4A appearance

The Aviators weren\u2019t near the top of the leaderboard in either the boys or girls 4A competition but athletes for the first-year school gained valuable experience.

The Cedar Valley boys team finished 17th led by junior Macy Carwin who came in 66th overall, while the Aviator girls team ended up 16th with sophomore Anne Ballard leading the way at 41st overall.

For complete results, go to http://RunnerCard.com.

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From an outsider\u2019s perspective, the way to be successful in cross country seems pretty straightforward:

Just keep running fast, right?

It\u2019s not nearly that simple for the top high school cross country teams, who are now making their final preparations for the state meet at Sugar House Park in Sugar House on Wednesday.

\u201cIt goes way deeper than most people really comprehend,\u201d American Fork head coach Timo Mostert said Monday. \u201cIt\u2019s a culmination of a tremendous amount of science in training, nutrition and psychology. It makes for a lot of fun coaching and getting kids to understand their potential is even greater than even they perceive it is.\u201d

Mostert has had runners and teams who have won in a variety of ways as the Cavemen have had eight individual champions and won nine team titles in 10 years, including achieving both successes last year.

He explained that he sees it as a personal responsibility to understand each of his athletes.

\u201cYou have to know the strengths and weaknesses of each of your runners,\u201d Mostert said. \u201cYou create a plan for each runner, since some are better at hills than others, others hit negative splits with their training, while others do things differently. It takes a lot of experience for a coach to understand those things and develop that race plan to optimize their performance at state. The coaches who do that the best are going to end up with most of their athletes having good races.\u201d

He did acknowledge that it\u2019s not always simple and straightforward because high school athletes are still maturing.

\u201cThey are high school kids and things happen,\u201d Mostert said. \u201cIt\u2019s up to them to be smart and perform at the best of their abilities. Some handle pressure better than others and it is quite a stress-filled afternoon for our youngsters.\u201d

In addition to delving into the abilities of each athlete, another area that cross country teams scrutinize in detail is the course itself.

\u201cEvery coach has their own particular strategy of how to run the state course,\u201d Mostert said. \u201cYou can\u2019t just barrel out there and then go hard for as long as you can. We have our own particular ways we like to run the course. You have four uphill sections and it\u2019s never truly flat.\u201d

He explained that by rule teams aren\u2019t allowed to be at the course in the two weeks leading up to state but most go sometime prior to that moratorium to break down the intricacies with their athletes.

For the most part, the route through Sugarhouse Park and into the stadium at Highland High School has been the same since 1998. The major recent change came when Highland constructed baseball and softball diamonds that required adjustment of the final mile.

\u201cThey had a small group of coaches with the Utah High School Track Coaches Association and a member of the Utah High School Activities Association meet at the course to figure out what worked and what didn\u2019t,\u201d Mostert said. \u201cIt took several hours to measure the distance and find landmarks. We tried to make it a good third mile. It\u2019s a fun course. Most spectators I\u2019ve talked to like it because they can see quite a bit of the action. I think it is one of the more challenging state championship courses in the nation.\u201d

By putting together a plan and detailing the individual and team approach to the course itself, cross country programs try to give themselves every advantage they can.

It\u2019s almost a requirement to have any hope to be near the top, considering the talent level in Utah high school cross country.

\u201cStatistically speaking, Utah is the strongest cross country state per capita in the US,\u201d Mostert said. \u201cIt\u2019s always a challenge to beat all these other teams. We got out of the Region 4 meet, which is known nationwide as the \u2018Region of Death.\u2019 It has five of the top six or seven cross country teams in the state but only four get to go to state. I\u2019ve been worried about being left out because I\u2019ve seen talent of the other athletes and coaches. I feel blessed the boys have been dedicated to the desire to excel and continue the success.\u201d

The best rewards come when the runners go out and excel on race day.

\u201cThe greatest reward in coaching is when a kid starts to understand what he can become,\u201d Mostert said. \u201cThen the training and all the preparation \u2014 both mental and physical and nutritional \u2014 it all comes together and the athlete sees the fruits of their labors. They understand it isn\u2019t one thing that made them successful. It was a culmination of everything. We started working in June, so 4\u00bd months ago to make this the goal of all our training.\u201d

The big test of who will rise to the top in cross-country in 2019 takes place on Wednesday at Sugarhouse Park starting at 10 a.m.

"}, {"id":"3622b93c-eb45-5004-a713-8978c599693b","type":"article","starttime":"1570536900","starttime_iso8601":"2019-10-08T06:15:00-06:00","priority":50,"sections":[{"high-school":"sports/high-school"},{"cross-country":"sports/high-school/cross-country"},{"football":"sports/high-school/football"},{"boys":"sports/high-school/golf/boys"},{"american-fork-cavemen":"sports/high-school/schools/american-fork-cavemen"},{"lehi-pioneers":"sports/high-school/schools/lehi-pioneers"},{"lone-peak-knights":"sports/high-school/schools/lone-peak-knights"},{"maple-mountain-golden-eagles":"sports/high-school/schools/maple-mountain-golden-eagles"},{"mountain-view-bruins":"sports/high-school/schools/mountain-view-bruins"},{"orem-tigers":"sports/high-school/schools/orem-tigers"},{"payson-lions":"sports/high-school/schools/payson-lions"},{"pleasant-grove-vikings":"sports/high-school/schools/pleasant-grove-vikings"},{"provo-bulldogs":"sports/high-school/schools/provo-bulldogs"},{"salem-hills-skyhawks":"sports/high-school/schools/salem-hills-skyhawks"},{"skyridge-falcons":"sports/high-school/schools/skyridge-falcons"},{"spanish-fork-dons":"sports/high-school/schools/spanish-fork-dons"},{"springville-red-devils":"sports/high-school/schools/springville-red-devils"},{"timpanogos-timberwolves":"sports/high-school/schools/timpanogos-timberwolves"},{"timpview-thunderbirds":"sports/high-school/schools/timpview-thunderbirds"},{"westlake-thunder":"sports/high-school/schools/westlake-thunder"},{"girls":"sports/high-school/soccer/girls"},{"girls":"sports/high-school/tennis/girls"},{"volleyball":"sports/high-school/volleyball"}],"flags":{"editors_pick":"true","featured":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Where are Utah Valley's former high school star athletes now?","url":"http://www.heraldextra.com/sports/high-school/article_3622b93c-eb45-5004-a713-8978c599693b.html","permalink":"https://www.heraldextra.com/sports/high-school/where-are-utah-valleys-former-high-school-star-athletes-now/article_3622b93c-eb45-5004-a713-8978c599693b.html","canonical":"https://www.heraldextra.com/sports/high-school/where-are-utah-valleys-former-high-school-star-athletes-now/article_3622b93c-eb45-5004-a713-8978c599693b.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":6,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By Jared Lloyd\nDaily Herald","prologue":"Here is a look at where Utah Valley high school athletes are competing in collegiate fall sports: FOOTBALLBYU (21) Chaz Ah You, So. LB, Timpview Matthew Criddle, So. LB, Lone Peak Zac Dawe, Jr. DL, Pleasant Grove James Empey, So. OL, American Fork Solofa Funa, Fr. LB, Spanish Fork Talmage Gunther, Fr. WR, Lone Peak","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["fr.","linguistics","worship","politics","sport","so.","solofa funa","keenan pili","jayden clemons","gabe summers","ammon hannemann"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"images":[{"id":"649dc8e0-d35e-54d9-a2ed-ea8b022e7efa","description":"University of Utah junior wide receiver Britain Covey poses for a portrait after preseason practice Friday, Aug. 9, 2019, at the Spence Eccles Field House in Salt Lake City. 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Here is a look at where Utah Valley high school athletes are competing in collegiate fall sports:

FOOTBALL

BYU (21)

Chaz Ah You, So. LB, Timpview

Matthew Criddle, So. LB, Lone Peak

Zac Dawe, Jr. DL, Pleasant Grove

James Empey, So. OL, American Fork

Solofa Funa, Fr. LB, Spanish Fork

Talmage Gunther, Fr. WR, Lone Peak

Jaren Hall, Fr. QB, Maple Mountain

Ammon Hannemann, Fr. DB, Lone Peak

Nate Heaps, So. TE, American Fork

Tevita Ika, Fr. WR, Provo

Lopini Katoa, So. RB, American Fork

Devin Kaufusi, So. DL, Timpview

Jackson McChesney, Fr. RB, Lone Peak

Keenan Pili, Fr. LB, Timpview

Mitchell Price, So. DB, Pleasant Grove

Spencer Romney, So. WR, Pleasant Grove

Skyler Southam, So. K, Wasatch

Gabe Summers, Fr. DL, Westlake

Will Watanabe, Fr. DB, Timpview

Austin Whetzel, Jr. WR, Lehi

Shamon Willis, So. DB, Westlake

UTAH (6)

Jayden Clemons, Fr. QB, Skyridge

Britain Covey, Jr. WR, Timpview

Samson Nacua, Jr. WR, Timpview

Soa Rosales, Fr. TE, Provo

Dylan Slavens, So. WR, Springville

Stratten Wagner, Jr. OL, Pleasant Grove

UTAH STATE (8)

Cooper Legas, Fr. QB, Orem

Kyle Van Leeuwen, Fr. WR, Timpview

Dalton Baker, Sr. DE, Payson

Fua Leilau, Sr. DE, Spanish Fork

Kaleo Neves, Fr. DE, Timpview

Braden Harris, Sr. DE, Gunnison

Hunter Hill, Fr. OL, Orem

Carson Terrell, Jr. TE, Lehi

WEBER STATE (8)

Adam Rodriguez, Sr. DE, Springville

Ty McPherson, So. WR, Lone Peak

Spencer Niutupuivaha, So. DB, Timpview

Ben Bos, Jr. OL, Wasatch

Jon Christensen, Fr. WR, Lone Peak

Jared Schiess, Jr. DL, Manti

Davis Rasmussen, Fr. DL, American Fork

Doug Schiess, Fr. DL, Manti

SOUTHERN UTAH (11)

Kyle Hannemann, Sr. DB, Lone Peak

Justin Miller, So. QB, Lone Peak

Collin Reid, Fr. WR, Maple Mountain

Cooper Smith, Fr. LB, Salem Hills

Clayton Johnson, Fr. TE, Springville

Canaan Yarro, Fr. OL, Timpview

Noel Unufe, Fr. OL, Maple Mountain

Kelton Bertagnini, So. TE, Provo

Cody Frampton, Jr. TE, Skyridge

Mark Kruger, Jr. DL, Pleasant Grove

Tyler Trotter, Fr. DL, Pleasant Grove

DIXIE STATE (4)

D\u2019Arman Notoa Jr. RB, Orem

Ma\u2019a Notoa, Fr. RB, Skyridge

Nate Heyward, Fr. DB, Timpanogos

Brett Roundy, Fr. OL, Delta

SNOW COLLEGE (24)

Jaxon Higginson So. WR, Spanish Fork

Gabe Sweeten Fr. QB, Timpanogos

Ammon Fifita Fr. TE, Salem Hills

Jason Money, So. DB, Spanish Fork

Zack Hansen, So. LB, Springville

Brock Winterton, Fr. LB, Pleasant Grove

Jason Arnold, Fr. OL, Wasatch

Taris Schramm, Fr. LB, Payson

Kaleni Neiufi, So. OL, Springville

Mitch Nelson, So. OL, Wasatch

Cyrus McPherson, Fr. OL, Westlake

Andre Yocum, Fr. OL, Skyridge

Wei Stanton, Fr. WR, Spanish Fork

Austin Griffith, Fr. TE, American Fork

Jose Pizano, Fr. K, Lehi

Charles Raass, Fr. DL, Lehi

Brodie Taylor, Fr. K/P, Springville

Blake Coburn, Fr. LS, Wasatch

Gentry Cox, Fr. WR, Lehi

Kolby Enosa, Fr. DL, Timpview

Seni Latu, Fr. LB, Manti

Taylor Lee, Fr. DB, North Sanpete

Jaxson Smith, Fr. DB, Pleasant Grove

Kyle Sorensen, Fr. OL, Pleasant Grove

WASHINGTON STATE (2)

Cammon Cooper, Fr. QB, Lehi

William Overstreet, Fr. DB, Lehi

STANFORD (2)

Spencer Jorgensen Fr. DB, Provo

Gabe Reid, Jr. LB, Timpview

SOUTHERN VIRGINIA (4)

Matthew Blake, Sr. LB, Timpview

Neil Davis, Sr. DB, Salem Hills

Nate Matis, Fr. LB, Spanish Fork

Nick Stoddard, Fr. WR, Provo

LUTHER COLLEGE (1)

Wyatt Robinson, So. OL, American Fork

VOLLEYBALL

BYU (3)

Heather Gneiting, So. MB, Pleasant Grove

Madi Robinson, So. OH, Lone Peak

Taylor Tausinga, So. S, American Fork

UTAH VALLEY (7)

Tori Dorius, Fr. OH, Wasatch

Seren Merrill, Jr. DS/L, Orem

Makaila Jarema, Sr. MB, Lone Peak

Kazna Tarawhiti, So. OH, Pleasant Grove

Bailey Nixon, Jr. OH, Pleasant Grove

Jaysa Funk Stratton, Jr. S, Lone Peak

Kristen Allred, Jr. OH, Maple Mountain

UTAH STATE (3)

Autumn Spafford, So. MB, Lone Peak

Madi Olson-Shepherd, Jr. DS/L, Lone Peak

Hailey Cuff, Fr. OH, Salem Hills

WEBER STATE (5)

Rylin Roberts, Jr. OH, Lehi

Kate Standifird, Fr. S, Skyridge

Megan Gneiting, Sr. OH/MB, Timpanogos

Caroline Clark, Fr. MB, Orem

Kennedy Redd, Jr. OH, Pleasant Grove

SOUTHERN UTAH (2)

Corrin Peterson, So. S, Westlake

Thea Leiataua, Sr. OH, Timpview

DIXIE STATE (4)

To\u2019a Faleao-Baich, Sr. MB/OH, Lehi

Lauren Gammell, Sr. RS/MB, Spanish Fork

Megan Treanor, Jr. RS/S, Salem Hills

Hannah Waddell, So. L, Pleasant Grove

SNOW COLLEGE (4)

Lydia Montague, Fr. MB, Lehi

Sarah Morley, So. OH, Salem Hills

Tessa Roberts, So. S, Salem Hills

Korrin Thornock, Fr. OH, Spanish Fork

USU EASTERN (4)

Emma Ricks, Fr. L, Lone Peak

Sunny Perry, Fr. RS, Springville

Saane Mavae, Fr. S, Springville

MeMe Jensen, Fr. MB, Payson

SOUTHERN VIRGINIA (2)

Courtney Swindlehurst, So. DS, Maple Mountain

Hannah Roberts, Fr. Opp, Timpanogos

WOMEN\u2019S SOCCER

BYU (8)

Ashton Brockbank, So. MF, Timpview

Elise Flake, Sr. F, Maple Mountain

Rachel Lyman, Sr. D, Maple Mountain

Rachel McCarthy, Fr. MF, American Fork

Jamie Shepherd, Fr. MF, American Fork

Cassidy Smith, Jr. GK, Lone Peak

Ellie Smith, Fr. MF, Lone Peak

Cameron Tucker, Jr. F, Lone Peak

UTAH VALLEY (6)

Katie Haskins, Fr. D, Timpview

Brinley Nelson, Jr. MF, Maple Mountain

Siri Dahl, Jr. MF, Lone Peak

Jocelyn Bybee, Fr. F, Lone Peak

Jenna Shepherd, Fr. D, American Fork

McKayla Montgomery, Fr., Springville

UTAH (3)

Carly Nelson, Sr. GK, Timpanogos

Anna Pickering, Fr. MF, Maple Mountain

Chelsea Peterson, Fr. F, Orem

UTAH STATE (6)

Kami Warner, Jr. MF, Springville

Marren Nielsen, So. GK, Timpview

Imelda Williams, Jr. D, Timpanogos

Alecia Robinson, Sr. F, Mountain View

Kathryn Wynn, Fr. D, Timpview

Kristin Rhees, Fr. D, Spanish Fork

SOUTHERN UTAH (2)

Kennedy Jex, So. D/MF, American Fork

Allyson Carlisle, Jr. F/D, American Fork

DIXIE STATE (9)

Kelsey Cook, So. MF, American Fork

Julia Dean, So. F/MF, Maple Mountain

Tess Donaldson, So. F, Timpanogos

Brynlie Ivie, Fr. F, Maple Mountain

Gabby Jensen, Fr. MF, Springville

Breesa Nawahine, Jr. MF, Skyridge

Sydney Roberts, Fr. D, Skyridge

Sophie Stewart, Jr. F, American Fork

Maralee Weller, Fr. D, Lehi

SNOW COLLEGE (15)

Jenna Smith, Fr. GK, Pleasant Grove

Kendall Tomey, Fr. D, Salem Hills

Chloe Martin, So. D, Maple Mountain

Kimberly Martinez, So. D, Westlake

Sage Gentry, So. D, Lehi

Ciena Woods, So. MF, Spanish Fork

Madisyn Frischknecht, Fr. MF, Maple Mountain

Hailey Hillock, So. GK, Skyridge

Mallory Ringer, So. MF, Orem

Kate Schirmer, Fr. F, Lone Peak

Maddison Smith, So. D, Lone Peak

Jade Marziale, Fr. F, Salem Hills

Sydney Bushman, Fr. D, American Fork

Amanda Bryan, Fr. F, Mountain View

Alaina Pestana, Fr. F, Timpview

USU EASTERN (6)

Rylie Bunce, So. MF, Maple Mountain

Brooklyn Anderson, Fr. MF, Lone Peak

Racquel Whatcott, Fr. F, Maple Mountain

Rachel Fleming, Fr. F, Westlake

Evalyn Ledezma, Fr. F, Timpanogos

Hadlee Harvey, So. GK, American Fork

GONZAGA (2)

Kayla Thompson, Fr. GK, Maple Mountain

Bryanna Carson, Fr. MF, Pleasant Grove

SOUTHERN VIRGINIA (4)

Hannah King, Jr. MF, Lone Peak

Madi Johnson, Fr. D, Lone Peak

Mikayla Gee, Fr. D, Springville

Holly Cunha, So. D, Skyridge

MEN\u2019S SOCCER

UTAH VALLEY (9)

Aaron Caprio, Sr. D, Lehi

Alec Felix, Sr. MF, Maple Mountain

Jaiden Waggoner, Sr., Maple Mountain

Aidan Dayton, Fr. MF, Maple Mountain

Ian Stonehocker, Fr. F, Maple Mountain

Samuel Krommenhoek, So. D, Maple Mountain

Tyler Gundred, Fr. F, Lone Peak

Leo Fuchs, So. F, Lehi

Sam Hess, Fr. D, American Fork

DIXIE STATE (1)

Carson Ecalono, Fr. MF, Pleasant Grove

SNOW COLLEGE (7)

Dallin Weller, Fr. D, Westlake

Lucas Astudillo, Fr. D, Orem

Tanner Rasband, Fr. GK, Lone Peak

Jaden Stuart, Fr. D, Westlake

Walter Henriquez, So. F, Provo

Eric Gomez, So. F, Orem

Kade Jorgensen, So. D, Lone Peak

USU EASTERN (3)

Santiago Novoa, Fr. GK, Westlake

Juan Ramirez, Fr. D, Mountain View

Talmage Woodhouse, Fr. MF, Pleasant Grove

CROSS COUNTRY

BYU

MEN (13)

Dalton Brems, Fr., American Fork

Carson Clinger, Fr., American Fork

Casey Clinger, Fr., American Fork

Zack Ericksen, Fr., Lone Peak

Talem Franco, Sr., Wasatch

Brandon Garnica, So., Springville

Luke Grundvig, Fr., American Fork

Jacob Heslington, Sr., Timpanogos

Zachry Jacklin, So., American Fork

McKay Johns, Fr., American Fork

Brayden McLelland, Sr., American Fork

Matt Owens, Jr., Orem

Haden Penrod, Fr., Springville

WOMEN (7)

Maddie Cannon Sr., Maple Mountain

Amanda Erickson, Jr., Lone Peak

Alissa Fielding, So., Mountain View

Kate Hunter, Jr., Provo

Madison Moffitt, So., Timpanogos

Sara Musselman, Jr., American Fork

McKenna Neyman, Jr., Timpview

UTAH VALLEY

MEN (3)

Austin Hinckley, Fr., Skyridge

Michael Hinckley, Fr., Skyridge

Kellis Johnson, Jr., Payson

WOMEN (12)

Maddie Bench, Jr., American Fork

Mary Christensen, Jr., Timpanogos

Rebekah Christensen, Jr., Timpanogos

Hailey Hess, Fr., American Fork

Skye Jeppson, So., Pleasant Grove

Emily Jones, Jr., Salem Hills

Kelsi Lindley, Fr., Mountain View

Lexi MacArthur, Jr., Orem

Savannah Neuberger, Sr., Wasatch

Cami Squires, Fr., American Fork

Taylor Viertel, So., Timpanogos

Elizabeth Wilcox, Fr., Timpview

UTAH STATE

MEN (3)

Haydon Cooper, Jr., Maple Mountain

Caleb Garnica, So., Springville

Devin Pancake, So., Springville

WOMEN (2)

Katie Struthers, Jr., Skyridge

Camille Wirthlin, So., Maple Mountain

WEBER STATE

MEN (4)

Connor Arnell, Fr., Lehi

Tyson Green, Sr., American Fork

Russell Lundberg, So., Salem Hills

Jamison Wilkes, Fr., Lone Peak

WOMEN (7)

Madelyn Boulton, Fr., Timpview

Allie Green, Fr., American Fork

Summer Harper, Sr., Orem

Tess McInelly, So., Maple Mountain

Lily Nettesheim, Fr., American Fork

Liza Sybrowsky, Fr., Timpview

Lexie Thompson, Sr., American Fork

SOUTHERN UTAH

MEN (4)

Joshua Collins, Sr., Wasatch

Koy Moore, Sr., Timpanogos

Jiraa Riding, So., Orem

Jireegna Riding, So., Orem

WOMEN (4)

Maddy Kauffman, Jr., Lehi

Julieta Navarrete-Lamas, Jr., Timpanogos

Alison Pray, So., Salem Hills

Haley Tanne, Fr., Pleasant Grove

DIXIE STATE

WOMEN (4)

Jacelin Clayton, Fr., Mountain View

Cassidy Elmont, Fr., American Fork

Ella Park, Fr., Springville

Mariah Skinner, Fr., Springville

If you know of other Utah Valley athletes who are competing in fall college sports who aren't listed, please let the Daily Herald know by sending an email to jlloyd@heraldextra.com.

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