CEDAR CITY — More than 500 high school cross-country runners converged on Cedar City’s Bicentennial Park Saturday morning to compete in the annual Southern Utah University Invitational.
All eight Region 9 schools were represented at the meet, although some did not have enough athletes racing to qualify for a team score. Several smaller schools also participated in the event, which was hosted and staffed by members of SUU’s cross-country and track teams.
In the girls varsity race, Hurricane sophomore Caila Odekirk kept pace with junior Kylah Ricks of Moab’s Grand County High for much of the 3.1-mile course, but Odekirk managed to pull away toward the end and win with a time of 19:03. Ricks, who was competing in the SUU event for the first time, crossed the finish line in second place with a time of 19:27.
“She ran that race perfect,” Hurricane head coach Shelly Thomas said of Odekirk. “She stayed right with that girl from Grand. She knew she needed to stay right with her, not lead, until it was toward the end.”
“When you run a race like that, it kind of wears the other person down and kind of makes them run the race, and you can just kind of coast off them. Caila was able to use her strength and speed at the end to take the win.”
Shortly after senior Taylia Norris of Panguitch crossed the finish line in third place with a time of 19:59, three of the next four runners to finish were all from Desert Hills, propelling the Lady Thunder to a first-place team finish. Lauren Leukenga (20:05), Madison Strasner (20:10) and Serra Hook (20:34) were helped by teammates Sydnee Dyer and Anna Powell in securing the team win for Desert Hills.
The top 5 girls varsity team results were as follows:
- Desert Hills 39
- Pine View 73
- Canyon View 75
- Hurricane 85
- Cedar 89
Meanwhile, the boys varsity race was also won by an athlete from Hurricane High, as junior Josh Armstrong led from start to finish, posting a winning time of 16:22. Right on Armstrong’s heels was senior Bailey Oswald of Cedar City High, who finished second with a time of 16:27.
Close behind Oswald, three of his Cedar High teammates also placed among the top seven, with senior Brady Bettridge taking fourth in 16:47, freshman Logan Peel taking sixth in 16:50 and senior Josh Robinson placing seventh in 16:51.
Those four, along with 15th place finisher Caleb Schofield, a junior, helped the Reds to first place overall among the boys teams at the meet.
“The guys were solid today,” Cedar boys coach Greg Harris said afterward. “They’ve been practicing really well lately, got some good workouts in. Our top four are really solid right now … (runners) five through seven have got a little work to do. They kind of know where they’re at, where they need to be, so we’re pleased with today.”
Junior Hunter Stucki of Desert Hills, who finished third in the varsity boys race with a time of 16:38, helped pace the Thunder to a second-place overall finish.
The top five varsity boys teams and scores were as follows:
- Cedar 34
- Desert Hills 68
- Hurricane 92
- Canyon View 104
- Snow Canyon 126
Additionally, in the junior varsity races staged separately Saturday morning, the Desert Hills girls and the Cedar boys each finished first, just as their respective varsity teams had done. Approximately 380 runners competed in the two JV races, while the varsity events had 56 girls and 69 boys finishing, respectively.
The next major meet hosted by a Region 9 school is the Dixie Invitational, scheduled for Sept. 3 in St. George.
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