CEDAR CITY — There was perfect weather and it was an almost perfect day for the Desert Hills boys and the Pine View girls Tuesday. Bicentennial Park was full of people cheering, watching and running as Cedar High School hosted the Region 9 cross-country meet.
Desert Hills stopped Pine View from sweeping the event as the Thunder boys took home the region title with six of the seven racers placing in the top 10. Pine View took home the girls region title placing five of the seven racers in the top 10, and also won both girls and boys junior varsity titles.
The Thunder’s Josh Thatcher took first in the boys race with a time of 15:50.2. While Pine View’s Meskerem Stucki took first in the girls race with a time of 18:52.6.
Desert Hills boys looks to three-peat at state
The finish line was crowded with Desert Hills families and fans and even a DH flag flying high as the runners came in and claimed the first place trophy. DH head coach Logan Fielding was happy with the way his team raced.
“We were hoping to get all seven (runners) in the top 10, but we were able to get six in the top 10, which is a huge accomplishment,” Fielding said. “Pine View’s got some really strong runners and was able to break up our pack, but it was a good race. I was really happy.”
Thatcher, being a senior, raced his final region race and came out on top.
“It’s definitely a big accomplishment,” Thatcher said. “I’m super proud, and I’m super happy. I’ve been here since my freshman year, so I’m super happy to just put all this work in, and [be able to] reap the benefits this year. It was a good way to end my senior region, for sure.”
Thatcher knows winning individually is great, but also knows it’s a team sport and it’s anyone’s race to win.
“We got out strong and grouped together that first mile or so,” Thatcher said. “I had a super good race, but depending on the race, anyone on my team, or anyone in the region could have a super fast race. We’re just a really close region.”
Fielding is looking forward to the State Championships meet next Wednesday, Oct. 21.
“The goal is to win state again,” Fielding said. “There’s some good teams. Pine View’s obviously a strong team. I think right now, they are the second best team in the state. It would be great to win a third straight state championship. We’re not trying to shoot for a perfect score, that’d be nice, but we’re just trying to get as many guys in the top 10 as we can.”
DH’s Jaiden Melendez finished second overall and Pine View’s Nick Hill was third.
Region 9 Cross Country — Boys Team Results
Desert Hills — 22
Pine View — 38
Cedar — 82
Hurricane — 125
Dixie — 129
Snow Canyon — 157
Pine View girls look to continue winning
Being the top team in region is great, but having that target on your back going into state may be worrying for some teams. Pine View is confident. PV head coach Dave Holt knows what its like to be favored going into state.
“I would think the girls will be favored going into (state),” Holt said. “We’ve been favored going into it before and won and not won, so you have to deliver. These girls are really confident. They’ve got a lot going for them, they believe in themselves, and they’re just young enough and naïve enough that they don’t feel a lot of pressure. So if we can keep them believing and building on how well they’ve done all year long— when we went up and ran in Idaho at the Bob Firman Invitational, it proved to the girls that we could run with some of the best teams in the nation — so we deserve to come home with that trophy, but we’ve got to do it.”
Stucki, also a senior, finished her last region meet in first.
“I feel really sad because it’s my last year,” Stucki said. “I like my teammates and if they weren’t with me, I wouldn’t have been able to run this region course or finish it. I’m really happy with them. I’m in because of them, I’m sure.”
Holt reminisced about when Stucki arrived on his team and how far she’s come to get to this point.
“It’s been so fun to see her,” Holt said. “She came to America probably three years and two weeks ago. I remember her first race at the Snow Canyon Invite, and she took off so hard, was out in the lead and then it was just like — crash! I thought, ‘Wow, we’ve got some potential here, but she’s got a long way to go.’
“To see her the second half of the year, back to that race in Idaho, she placed in the top 20 with, truthfully, the best runners in the nation. It gave her so much confidence, and [it was good] to see her run with that confidence today. She should be in the mix for the state title. When she’s up there pushing, her teammates are going to believe they can be there because they’ve ran with her all year, and it’s just going to get the team doing exactly what the team is supposed to do, and bring home that state title.”
Stucki is excited to see what she and the team can do at the 3A State Championships next Wednesday.
“I want my teammates to run together and win state hopefully, because I know my teammates are really strong,” Stucki said. “I know they can do it.”
Rylee Holt of Pine View took second in the girls race, with Desert Hills freshman Lily Poulton taking third.
The state meet will be held at Sugar House Park, located in Salt Lake City. For more information on the region meet, visit runnercard.com.
Region 9 Cross Country — Girls Team Results
Pine View — 25
Desert Hills — 53
Cedar — 57
Snow Canyon — 101
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