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Grizzlies Tops at Region Cross Country Championships

Nov 06, 2015 01:11PM ● Published by Greg James

By Greg James

West Jordan - Runners on the Copper Hills High School cross country team scored impressive finishes at the Region 3 cross country championships.

The Cottonwood Softball Complex in Holladay hosted the fastest cross country runners from Region 3. The Grizzlies’ determination to post a top finish is illustrated in a boys second place finish and girls region championship.

“The girls team is not to be outdone by our boys. They have showed great improvement over last year. They are led by fourth year runner Hailey Barker. She has worked hard all summer. This year’s girls team is as good a team as we have seen the last few years,” head cross country coach Garth Rushforth said.

Juniors Julia Falcon and Autumn Babcock, along with Barker, finished within 10 seconds of each other in third, fourth and fifth places at the region championships.  Senior Kaitlin Farley placed eighth overall, and sophomore Natalie Mandjano finished 12th. The five runners in the top 15 helped propel the girls to the region title. They finished seven points ahead of second place Jordan Beetdiggers.

The boys team placed second overall in Region 3. Senior Christian Allen, despite recovering from an injury received during the spring track season, paced the Grizzlies. His second place finish, five seconds behind Bingham’s Adam Haynes, was tops on the team. Junior Corban Allen placed seventh, senior Charlie Olsen 13th and seniors Benjamin Papenfuss and Alex Newbold rounded out the team’s scoring runners.

“We have seen a big difference over the last year with a desire to improve and to maintain a positive attitude. Each athlete on this team realizes they play an important role on the team, whether it is as a scoring varsity runner or a non scoring JV athlete. They all work hard to become the varsity athlete and push the varsity runners to be better,” Rushforth said.

In the fall, Utah high schools participate in cross country racing. The sport varies from its spring counterpart, track and field. Teams and individuals run a race over natural terrain, including grass, dirt roads and sometimes wooded areas; the courses also include hills, flat ground and sometimes gravel roads.

Copper Hills seniors Braedon Dority , Hailey Barker, Valerie Burtenshaw and Hannah Huefner were named to the Deseret News Academic All-State Team. Eligible seniors must maintain a 3.5 or higher cumulative grade point average, be a regular varsity contributor and be nominated by their coach or athletic director.

The 5A state cross country championships were scheduled for Oct. 21 at Sugarhouse Park (after press deadline). Allen finished third overall last season in the boys state race, and Barker placed 35th in the girls race.         

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