Hillcrest Huskies Taking the 2016 Season in Stride
Sep 29, 2016 05:27PM
● By Sarah Almond
By Sarah Almond | [email protected]
For Hillcrest High School’s cross country team, a season that was slow to start is now in full swing. With just weeks until the group competes for the title of region champions, the Huskies are working to stay focused on improving with each race.
“So far things are going OK,” head coach Scott Stucki said. “We started out pretty average but have been improving since the beginning of the season.”
Though Huskies graduated three seniors on the boys team last year, Stucki has been happy to see several younger kids stepping up to fill the void. He’s also been pleasantly surprised by the number of kids who have come out for the 2016 season.
“I have around 54 kids on the roster this year,” Stucki said. “It’s the biggest numbers we’ve had in quite a while.”
The team welcomed a large group of freshman this year, many of whom have showed promise in both talent and dedication.
“All of the kids, even some of the younger runners, have been practicing pretty hard since June,” Stucki said. “We had a goal to see who could reach the 400-mile mark this summer and anyone who made it got a T-shirt.”
Despite the team’s growth in numbers, Stucki has continued to face the same challenge that he’s struggled with for years: getting kids out to run.
“We try really hard to get out and start talking about the season throughout the winter and spring and we’ll go to the middle school to talk to eighth graders who are coming up,” Stucki said. “But it always seems to be a challenge to attract and keep younger runners in the program.”
One of the things Stucki doesn’t have to worry about with this year’s big group, however, is leadership.
“We have seven senior girls on the girls side, and three of them have been running varsity all four years,” Stucki said. “They have been really important to us this year. We also have five seniors on the boys team who have all been stepping up and being good leaders.”
Stucki is hoping that the group’s strong leadership and increased number of runners will help them to achieve their goal of winning the region championships in early October.
“Our goal is always to make it to state, but more than anything I think we’d love to win region,” Stucki said. “We have a big gap to close before we can make that happen, though. We are in a tough region with some pretty fast runners who are hard to catch.”
If history is any indicator of the future, however, making it to the state championships on October 19 is a very achievable goal for the Huskies; the boys team has competed at the state meet for the past nine years and the girls have qualified for the past four.
“We should definitely be able to send our teams again this year,” Stucki said. “We’re still working on building that culture and growing our team, but I think we are pretty close.”
With just weeks until the Huskies compete at the region championships, Stucki is hopeful the teams will continue to improve and reach the milestones needed to accomplish their goals.
“I’m looking forward to watching these kids set PRs (personal records) on the courses that they run and watching them qualify for state,” Stucki said. “We’ve still got some work to do, but we’re on the right track.”
The state championship will be held on October 19 at Sugarhouse Park, 1330 East 2100 South.