WELLSVILLE — Determined to get the region cross country trophy back, the Ridgeline girls have run well as a pack all season.
Tuesday at the Region 11 championship held at the American West Heritage Center was no different. The Riverhawks had their top five finishers among the first 11 girls to cross the finish line. In fact, Ridgeline had six in the top 12 and all seven runners were in the top 18.
“I’m really proud of our team this year,” said Ridgeline junior Alexis Patrick, who finished third. “We have worked really hard for this. It’s nice to come in close together, and it’s nice to take region back. We had a lot of motivation this year.”
The Riverhawks easily outpointed defending region champ Bear River, 33 to 58. A year ago the Bears edged Ridgeline by two points. Rounding out the team scores Tuesday were Sky View (72), Mountain Crest (74), Green Canyon (123) and Logan (171). The top five teams punched a ticket to the 4A State Championships to be held next week in Cedar City.
The top five runners from each school count toward the team score. Varsity squads are made up of seven runners.
“The girls are very happy they got it (region trophy) back,” Riverhawk head coach Mary Kirby said. “She (Patrick) is peaking at the right time and doing really well. Madi(son Patrick) ran an amazing race as well. They all did. It was a really good day for them.”
Patrick’s older sister Madison Patrick was fourth, followed by Mackenzie Duncan in sixth, Emily Spaulding in ninth, Brynlee Brown in 11th, Sydnee Walton in 12th and Madelyn Busch in 18th.
“It was fun to see the JV and varsity do well,” Kirby said.
Sky View’s Kate Dickson won the race in convincing fashion. The senior covered the 5K course in 18 minutes, 35.3 seconds. Defending region champion Madison White of Bear River was second at 19:13.7.
“My goal was to just run as hard as I could because it is one of my last races,” Dickson said. “... I want to push myself hard at state too.”
White said she tried to keep up with Dickson.
“She (Dickson) has been on fire,” White said. “She ran a great race. It just wasn’t my day. I wasn’t feeling it. Ridgeline ran awesome. Alexis really put pressure on me.”
It was a strong finish for the Bobcat who missed several meets at the beginning of the season because of injury.
“She has really turned it on these last three weeks, going sub 19 on three-mile courses,” SV head coach John Womack said. “She had a great race today. ... She is mentally tough, focused and in her own happy place. She has been awesome and working super hard.”
It was also sweet for Dickson to see her twin sister come in fifth. Olivia Dickson (19:44.7) finished strong and helped the Bobcats finish third as a team.
“I was proud of Olivia,” Kate Dickson said. “She has worked hard and really improved.”
It was nerve wracking for the girls as a false start was called on the initial firing of the gun. The top finishers said it didn’t bother them, but some girls were visibly a bit rattled.
“It didn’t mess with me, but it messed with my team a little bit,” Alexis Patrick said. “Personally, I wasn’t ready for the first start, so it was good for me. I kind of missed the first gun.”
“It just got my adrenaline running,” Kate Dickson said. “I didn’t mind.”
The top four finishers all got out away from the rest of the pack at the beginning of the race. White and Alexis Patrick each took the lead for a while in the early going, but just after a mile Kate Dickson took charge and built a gap on the rest of the field, winning by nearly 39 seconds.
“I have realized if I start from behind, I’m going to stay behind, so I wanted to start and try and stay with the top two runners, which I knew were going to be Kate and Madi White,” Alexis Patrick said. “I got in front for a little, but I did not hold that or long because those two are really good runners. ... It was kind of terrifying being in front. I knew Madi White was on my shoulder the whole time, so I may have pushed my pace a little and died out at the end. But it was a good experience.”
Five of the top six finishers were seniors. Alexis Patrick will be back and has tried to learn from the older runners.
“Kate (Dickson) is such a good runner,” Alexis Patrick said. “She is super calm or at least she seems super calm. Although I went out fast and my sister Madi went out fast, she kept her pace. As soon as we showed weakness, she got us. She is a really strong runner.”
Jordan Merrill was the top Mustang finisher, crossing in seventh in 20:07.2. Fellow Mustang Abby Case was 10th in 20:20.2. Green Canyon twins Taylor and Lauren Hancey were the top Wolves in 19th and 20th place in 21:15.2 and 21:17.6. Logan was led by freshman Aubrey Khan in 29th place in 22:16.3.
In the JV race, Green Canyon’s Katie Latvakoski was the top runner in 20:30.5. The next six runners were from Ridgeline, led by Madeline Sonntag (21:55.8), as the Riverhawks took the team title with 20 points.