ST. GEORGE — Coming off one of the most impressive performances by any region at any Utah State Championships ever, boys and girls high school cross-country teams in Southern Utah look to continue to dominate the 4A scene as the 2021 season gets underway.
In an email to St. George News, Pine View cross-country coach David Holt wrote, “Utah has made a serious claim to being the top cross country state in the nation, and Region 10 teams have played a large role in that.”
Desert Hills boys team won the 4A state championship last year, and the following top five teams were all regional squads: Cedar, Hurricane, Snow Canyon and Pine View, respectively.
Hurricane senior Joshua Armstrong was the top individual boys runner at the state meet.
Among the top 4A girls teams, three of the top five squads came from the region, led by state champion Pine View. Desert Hills finished second and Cedar was fourth at state.
Hurricane junior Caila Odekirk took the top spot on the podium in girls individual competition.
Overall, on the girls team, 16 of the 21 All-State selections came from Southern Utah while 18 of 21 All-State boys selections were from local schools.
In the preview email to St. George News, Holt compiled comments from Region 10 coaches about their squads heading into the first cross-country race, Aug. 18 at Cedar High School.
Pine View boys
“Our varsity roster will be full of new faces, with only three returning athletes with state experience,” Holt said. “Our top runners will be junior Trey Despain, who is one of the top returners in the state, and senior Zack del Toro, who has run very well this summer after coming off a couple years of injuries.
“We have a lot of inexperienced sophomores who have shown good growth this year and should help us build in the future,” Holt added. “We have a big goal of finishing in the upper half of the region and continuing our top five at state streak which is the second longest in Utah at 12 years.”
Pine View girls
“We return three runners from last year’s state champ team in senior Brinley Peterson and juniors Adri Baker and Brooklyn Hill,” Holt said. “Those three look to be joined by two of the top sophomores in the state, Kate Jones and Katie Finch. Sophomore Brianna Udy and senior Kennis Borrowman have had very good summers as well.
“I don’t like to ever pick ourselves as a favorite, but we believe we are strong enough to be battling the other top programs in the region and state,” Holt added.
Dixie boys and girls
“We are excited about another great season with our boys and girls cross-country teams,” said coach Paul Durrant. “We are returning a top ten state finisher in Ruby Ludlow on our girls side and are looking for a couple of veteran runners and some of our newcomers to help round out a solid team this season.
“We have some good leadership with our upperclassmen on our boys team,” Durrant added. “Led by junior Reed Bigham and seniors Aidan Kurtz, Glenn Butterfield, and Carter Matthews, they are excited to improve on their region performance from last year.”
Hurricane boys and girls
“Hurricane cross-country had a great 2020 season with individual champions in both the girls and boys divisions,” said head coach Philip Armstrong. “However, both have left the Tigers. Caila Odekirk graduated early and signed with UVU. Joshua Armstrong graduated and is on his way to Spain for a couple of years and then he will run for USU. There were a number of other seniors who will be missed.
“However, we have some exciting talent,” Armstrong added. “Look for Madi Slack and Shelby Smith with Anni Fuller, Eliza Dansie, Brinley Hayes and a few others who will lead the girls team. The boys will be led by Seth Armstrong with Jerren Ence, Isaac LeBaron, Austin Ashcraft, Ben Jackmen and Madix Jensen helping to make the Tigers competitive. Hurricane cross-country is excited to start the 2021 season!”
Cedar boys and girls
“Cedar High School is looking forward to another successful and enjoyable cross-country season,” said head coach Greg Harris. “The Lady Reds will feature a mainly new group of varsity girls. They are led by Carissa Hofeling and newcomer Emma Page, who both hope to finish top 10 in the state. A group of other girls including Ellie Campbell, Mara Lambert, Megan Robinson, and Kodi Oveson have looked good this summer as well.” Harris said they are hungry to compete and improve.
“The boys are returning four of their varsity squad from last year including Logan Peel, Spencer Shakespeare, Caleb Simmerman, and Seth Sonerholm,” Harris added. “Rounding out our top seven to start the season will be Braxton Gifford, Spencer Heaton, and Justin Dodds. The boys have a strong squad and a large group of sophomores ready to compete for top spots as well.”
Desert Hills boys
“Desert Hills boys come into the 2021 season with a lot of excitement. They are led by the top two returners in 4A from the 2020 state meet- Carson Wall and Brooks Barney,” said Thunder head coach Logan Fielding. “The boys team returns four total varsity runners from last year, including Chris Boyer and Payton Wilkins from last year’s state championship team. The boys had a great summer of training and are working smart every day. The boys have a good opportunity to compete for another region and state championship this 2021 season. Region 10 will be very competitive again this year.”
Desert Hills girls
“The Desert Hills girls are led by Seniors Kailani Zufelt, Sarah Klomp, and Kenzee Gubler,” said Fielding. “We have a whole heap of sophomores and juniors who had a strong summer of training and look to contribute this year. It will be fun to see the growth and progression of this girls team this year.
“They plan on building on their second place finish in the region and state from 2020,” Fielding added. “Pine View girls are very strong again and look to be the favorite in the region and state this year to win it all, but it will be a great opportunity for our girls team to race against them and see how we stack up.”
Crimson Cliffs boys and girls
“The Crimson Cliffs boys team will have a strong top five with returning runners senior Mason Eardley, juniors Thomas Wirthlin, Liam Juassi and newcomer Brody Gustin, and sophomore Ben Stanley,” head coach Cecilia Muldoon-Walker said. “This team has a tight pack and the team goal is to finish top 10 in the state. As a new school, most of our depth is with younger runners who will build more experience over the next few years.
“The girls have returning standout Sarah Ellis, who is a senior this year,” Muldoon-Walker added. “Sarah finished ninth at state last year and has had a great summer of training. This new team has some younger runners that will have to fill the varsity positions, but will gain experience over the season.”
Snow Canyon boys
“We return two or our top seven runners from the 2020 State Championships, where we finished fourth overall,” head coach Justin Redfearn said. “We feel like this young team has proven over the course of the last year to be ready to fill in those vacated spots. We have been impressed with their commitment to the team and preparation for the upcoming season. The depth of this team is our strength, as we feel we have 15 to 17 boys vying for the top seven spots. Don’t sleep on these runners!”
Snow Canyon girls
“We return five of our top seven runners from the 2020 State Championships where we finished sixth overall,” Redfearn said. “With the experience of our returning seniors and the blossoming of our young underclassmen, we feel like this team can run with anyone in the state.”
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