SALT LAKE CITY – After finishing in second place for the past two years, the Timpanogos girls cross country team captured the program’s first state title at the 4A championships Wednesday afternoon at Highland High School.
Provo junior Kate Hunter repeated as the individual medalist, pulling away from the competition to win by more than 15 seconds at 18:15.9.
“I was really happy,” she said. “I was hoping to get first again, but there are a lot of good girls.”
Her strategy for the race was to stay behind the lead runner for the first 800 meters and then take off.
“It got hard at the end,” she said. “When I finally got to the track, I was just hoping to make it to the finish line.”
Hunter added that last year she entered the race not knowing what to expect, but this time she felt confident in her experience.
“I was better prepared,” she said. “I’ll begin working now to make it three in a row next year.”
The Timberwolves were led by senior Julieta Navarrete-Lamas, who medaled in eighth and also received her Academic All-State award at the meet.
“She’s been our captain and leader all season and she ran an incredible race today,” said Timpanogos coach Jody Benson.
The group was able to register their triumph because they competed as a team. Only 46 seconds separated the first and fifth runners.
“We really never had a No. 1 runner,” the coach said. “The girls didn’t have a set spot, so they all pushed each other. That’s what made the difference today.”
Navarrete-Lamas was followed by sophomore Taylor Viertel 13th, senior Erin Anderson 15th, junior Rebekah Christensen 16th and sophomore Madison Moffitt 25th. Junior Karen Christensen and sophomore Holley VanSchouwenburg rounded out the squad.
Benson characterized the victory as emotional.
“We’ve been bridesmaids a lot, and we’re finally the bride,” he said.
The team has finished second or third multiple times.
“It’s great to finally get one,” the coach said. “The girls have worked hard. We’ve had some great runners before them and this program has been through a lot to get to this day.
“This is a young team and we have a great group of girls coming up. We’ll keep doing what we’re doing and aiming for more success in the future.”
It was actually a good showing overall for the Valley’s Region 7 entrants. Timpanogos finished with 69 points, followed by Mountain View with 88.
The Bruins claimed the silver trophy and had two top-10 medalists in freshman Mimi Miyazawa, who finished third, and junior Alina Magistro, who was 10th.
Timpview was fourth overall at 129 with junior Hope Lundberg 12th. From Region 8, Wasatch came in sixth at 192 edging Maple Mountain in seventh at 194, led by senior Elli Eastmond in 19th. Salem Hills was 10th at 242 and Springville was 11th at 286.
Other local medalists included Red Devil junior Julie Sumsion in fourth, Skyhawk senior Haley Johnston in fifth, Wasp sophomore Abby West seventh and her freshman teammate Pearl Harvey in ninth.
Orem senior Alexis MacArthur finished 20th competing as an individual.