By Bill Bedford
Cross country teams from North Sanpete and Manti High Schools traveled together to Phoenix, Ariz. to compete in a regional race, and they performed very well in the small school division, according to North Sanpete Coach Bill Bedford.
Even though the regular Utah high school cross country season concluded in late October with the UHSAA State Championships, many teams across the nation remain connected with their sport through the series of regional Nike Cross National races, Bedford said.
Runners from Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona competed Nov. 20 on the golf course at Shalimar Country Club in Tempe, Ariz.
Coach Bedford and Manti High Coach Brandon Norris took both their boys’ and girls’ teams to the season ending competition.
In the girls’ race, the Lady Hawks from North Sanpete bounced back from late season illness and injury to secure a second-place trophy, only behind an elite team from Vail Valley Academy from Colorado.
The Manti girls’ team was a little shorthanded, but they still finished strong.
The Hawks’ team was led by an outstanding 5K performance of 19:40 by junior Madelyn Christensen, who has been the hottest NS runner over the last few weeks of the season, Bedford said.
Mari Briggs followed with a time of 20:07; Aubry Cook, 20:18; Rachael Jones, 20:47; and Jocelyn Stewart, 21:41. Behind the Hawks in third was a rival 3A school from Utah, the Morgan Trojans.
“Going into Nike, we knew so little about most of the teams from out of state, we had little idea where we would finish,” Bedford said. “But my teams have had great practices in the weeks following State, so I knew we were capable of something special. It was the capstone for what was a great season and trip.”
Meanwhile, in the boys’ race, Manti showed its depth and strength with an impressive showing, finishing 6th out of 20 schools. Tyler Taggart led the way for the Templars with a time of 16:51, finishing exactly at the same time as the Hawks’ junior Tezra Fisk.
Other Templar runners that compiled Manti’s team score were Kyle Steinfeldt, 17:34; Tyler Norris, 18:05; Trevor Taggart, 18:08; and Lowe Rasmussen, 18:10.
The tight 1:19 spread between the Templars’ top five was very impressive, Bedford said, reflecting good depth as well as speed over the 5K distance.
The North Sanpete boys’ team was not at full strength, and they finished in the middle of the pack, Bedford said.
In addition to successful racing, the teams were able to experience trail runs on the rim of Glen Canyon and in Flagstaff, a tour of the new LDS temple in Mesa, a hike to the Horseshoe Bend overlook near Page, and a morning hike and exploration of Slide Rock State Park near Sedona.