Ridgeline had all seven runners across the finish line before the fifth Bear River girl came in.
However, the Bears had three runners in the top eight and were able to edge the Riverhawks in the 2019 Region 11 Girls Championships Tuesday afternoon on the Steve & Dona Reeder Cross Country Course at Utah State University.
For the first time since Ridgeline opened its doors as a school, the girls did not win the region title in cross country. Bear River scored 52 points to the Riverhawks’ 54. The top five runners score toward the team points.
“I am so proud of my girls, they ran so well,” Ridgeline head coach Mary Kirby said. “They really did. ... It was a very, very close competition. They gave everything they had. That’s why I’m so proud of my girls.”
The Riverhawks were without Mackenzie Duncan, who suffered a quad injury last week. She has been one of Ridgeline’s top runners. Bear River was also without one of its top runners Tuesday and actually only ran six athletes in the varsity competition.
Rounding out the team scoring was Green Canyon (77), Sky View (88), Mountain Crest (89) and Logan (153). The top five teams punched a ticket to the 4A State Championships, which will be held next week in Salt Lake City.
“I don’t know what to expect at state,” Kirby said. “It all depends on if Mackenzie is back. We will be competitive, but I don’t know how high we will be. Our girls are really, really good if she (Duncan) is healthy and can come back.”
Deciding the individual champion came down to a sprint finish in the 5K. Bear River’s Madison White was able to hold off Sky View’s Kate Dickson by two seconds. White did much better than she was aiming for as the junior crossed the line in 19 minutes, 13.4 seconds.
“I just wanted to do good and PR,” White said. “... I wanted to run under 19:30, which I did.”
White ran at the front of the race the whole time. Several different girls ran with her for a while, but each would eventually drop back.
“My plan was to hold them all off,” White said. “... I’m definitely not the fastest (sprinter), but if I’m going for a place I really want, I can hold my own.”
Which she proved down the final stretch as Dickson gave it all she could, but couldn’t get in front of the Bear. Dickson came into the race aiming for a top-five finish. She did much better than that with her second-place medal in 19:15.5.
“My plan was to not start out super fast so I would have enough energy to go fast at the end,” Dickson said. “... I felt like it was a good race. ... Cross country races are hard to sprint at the end. You are so tired. She (White) did well.”
Next week the Bobcat wants to break 19 minutes in the state meet.
“We will see how that goes,” Dickson said. “Last year was not very good at state.”
Taking third was Green Canyon’s Bella Jensen. The freshman was back in the pack for most of the race, but started picking off runners over the last mile-and-a-half. She crossed in 19:32.5.
“The hill at the end kills every time,” Jensen said. “My goal was to get top three and maybe win it if I was lucky. My strategy, I just kind of played on how I felt.”
Jensen felt good about her chances in a sprint, but needed to get closer to the two leaders. She ended up being 19 seconds off the winner.
“I’ve been training for this for how long now?” Jensen said. “If I don’t know how to sprint by now. Honestly, the last stretch was prayers and whatever blessing I could get from heaven above.”
The top Riverhawk was Madison Patrick. She and White battled at the front for most of the race. Dickson and Jensen had strong kicks at the finish, and Patrick had to settle for fourth.
“I went out and tried to stay in the front,” Patrick said. “I think I’m more of a front runner than staying back. I got out there and Maddie (White) was right behind me the whole time and she kept trying to surge and it would scare the crap out of me. She finally got me. She ran a real tough race. Every time I slowed down, she would take advantage.’
Patrick hung in there for two miles.
“Kate (Dickson) came from nowhere,” Patrick said. “Kate and Maddie took the pace to a whole other level. Kate has been so solid these last few races. It has been scary to run against her.”
How did the Riverhawks deal with the loss of Duncan for this race?
“We tried to rally when she got hurt, because that sucked,” Patrick said. “We believed we could still do it. I felt a difference with her not out there. We push each other so much, so I missed her a lot and the whole team did. Everybody stepped up and did what they could today.”
The top 12 runners earned all-region accolades. Bear River’s Shylee Kofoed was fifth in 19:41.8, followed by Mountain Crest’s Jordan Merrill (19:45.7), Ridgeline’s Alexis Patrick (19:50.4), Bear River’s Elizabeth Phillips (20:05.2), Green Canyon’s Taylor Hancey (20:09.5) and Lauren Hancey (20:16.7), Ridgeline’s Emily Spaulding (20:25.1) and Logan’s Abigail Blanchard (20:34.2).
Alexis Patrick is the younger sister to Madison Patrick.
“My favorite thing this year has been running with her and she has been right behind,” Madison said. “It’s so cool to know my little sister is right there.”
Three Logan girls punched their ticket to state in Blanchard, Haedyn Buchanan and Tabitha McKinnon.
The Ridgeline girls won the junior varsity title with an almost perfect score of 16. Mountain Crest was second at 51.
Riverhawk Hannah Stracke won the race and had three teammates finish second through fourth. Nine Ridgeline runners were among the top 11.