A pair of lightening delays, pouring ran, wind and finally some sunshine were all part of the Pre-Region 11 meet Wednesday afternoon.
The six schools got together at the Steve and Dona Reeder Cross Country Course on the campus of Utah State University. Originally, a junior varsity race for girls and boys were scheduled, with the varsity girls and boys to follow. However, Mother Nature had other plans.
What ended up happening was all the girls ran together almost an hour later than the meet was supposed to start. All of the boys followed, which created a large field of runners. There were 143 girls who finished the 5K, while 205 boys made it around the challenging course.
For the boys, it was much better weather as the sun came out. The girls didn’t have such luck. Their race was held in mostly raining conditions and sometimes a downpour. There was also wind to contend with.
Ridgeline’s Madison Patrick didn’t mind the rain. In fact, the junior felt like it gave her an advantage. That was bad news for the rest of the field.
The 2017 region champion set the pace after a group of Mustangs bolted at the start, but quickly slowed down. Once Patrick got in front, she never gave up the lead.
“I actually like running in the rain,” Patrick said. “I felt it was an advantage for me because it was nice and cold. When I run in the rain, I feel like I’m alone. I like that better.”
Patrick helped the Riverhawks claim the team title as well. Ridgeline finished with 34 points as its top five runners — who count for the team score — were in the top 11. Sky View was second at 62, followed by Green Canyon (68), Mountain Crest (89), Logan (129) and Bear River (162).
“I think we are looking pretty solid,” Patrick said. “We have Mackenzie (Duncan, 5th) who has really helped a lot. Brynlee (Brown, 11th), Lexi (Patrick, 7th) and Emily (Spaulding, 10th) have all stepped up. Our pack is definitely a lot closer. That is awesome.”
While Ridgeline didn’t have the boys individual winner — Quinten Wright was second — the Riverhawks had a nice pack — six runners in the top 13— and easily took the team win with 37 points. Mountain Crest was second at 77, followed by Logan (80), Bear River (97), Green Canyon (97) and Sky View (99).
“Our team has been super good,” Wright said. “We had to reload after losing all those seniors. We had some guys really step up. Benson Weeks and Spencer Adams really stepped up big time.”
Counting toward the Ridgeline team score were Spencer Adams (6th), Teyvin Broadbent (7th), Nate Weston (10th) and Benson Weeks (12th).
Patrick and Sky View’s Kate Dickson pulled away from the rest of the field about halfway through the race. Patrick was able to build a gap with a mile to go and crossed the finish line in 19 minutes, 41.89 seconds. Dickson was second at 19:52.01.
“I really don’t even know my time,” Patrick said. “I just came out to run today and tried a different strategy. It worked. I had fun. ... I could here her (Dickson) behind me the whole time and it got my heart going a little.”
Dickson, a junior, was just glad it wasn’t hot.
“It felt good and it wasn’t scorching hot,” Dickson said. “It was a mad dash (to get ready), but it was good.
“... I feel like I started pretty good. I slowed down a little in the middle, but it turned out good. ... I was just trying to stay with her (Patrick) the whole time.”
Green Canyon senior Bella Jensen was third in 20:12.0.
“I was a little nervous with the weather and all the complications with that,” Jensen said. “We prepare for each race and want to do well every time. ... When it hurt, I just ran harder.”
Finishing fourth was Mountain Crest freshman Jordan Merrill in 20:16.2. She has been anxious to join the high school ranks.
“It was super-duper fun,” Merrill said. “Honestly, I like competing with the girls in our valley. Even though we want to win, it’s still fun to become friends with them. ... The season has been going great. I’ve been wanting to be on the cross country team for a while, so it’s super fun to finally be here. ... I’m kind of getting used to what my pace is, but I just want to stay with the top people.”
How did the girls deal with the two lightening delays?
“I was so pumped and ready to go and then they said ‘lightening,’ and I was ‘oh darn it,’” Merrill said. “It was still good.”
While the boys knew they would run after the girls, they still had to wait.
“It’s cross country,” Wright said. “Part of the game is being mentally tough. It sucks, but part of the sport. You just have to be ready and go get it done.”
When it was time for the boys to toe the starting line, the rain had stopped. The sun was out.
“It felt like we cheated the girls out,” Wright quipped.
The top four boys set the pace early. Logan’s Alex Rasmussen and Ian Bressel, Wright and Mountain Crest’s Spencer O’Very got away from the rest of the field. O’Very was in front for a good chunk of the race
“Spencer (O’Very) is such a good runner and always runs honest,” Wright said. “Ian (Bressel) and Alex (Rasmussen) are super fast guys. I had no choice but to go with them.”
O’Very is the defending region champion and was looking to pick up where he left off a year ago. The senior did not lose a race against region foes in 2018.
“I’m more used to front running; that’s what I did all last year,” O’Very said. “That’s what I’m going to try and do this year. ... Everyone has gotten a lot better in this region since last year. It’s really exciting.”
But Rasmussen had other thoughts on his mind. The Grizzly senior attacked on the last uphill portion with about a mile to go. He got in front and stayed there. He went on to win with a time of 16:32.04 and was happy the rain left.
“I really don’t like getting wet, so it threw off my motivation a little bit” Rasmussen said. “But when we were ready to start, the weather was out of my mind.”
Wright also got away with Rasmussen on the last climb, but Rasmussen finished strong to beat Wright by six seconds. O’Very was third (16:47.25), while Bressel was fourth (16:53.27).
“We’ve raced against each other for a while, so we know how each of us race,” Rasmussen said. “... It felt good (on the uphill), so I went for it. I knew it was time to go. These guys are really good athletes, so you don’t want to ruin the chance. You don’t want to make a move you can’t keep. Once I made my move, I stuck with it.”
Bressel missed most of last year with an injury and is still working his way back.
“I just tried to stick with those guys as long as possible,” Bressel said. “I knew Alex (Rasmussen) had put in a lot of work and would have a good push, which he did.”
While it is early, the Riverhawks are certainly off to a good start in defending both the boys and girls region team titles. In fact, both squads have won region every year since the school opened its doors in 2016.
Ridgeline also won the girls and boys JV titles at the meet.