The 2018 boys cross country season was a banner one for the Indians, and their top competitors have continued to excel during the 2019 track & field season.
Preston’s Sam Jeppsen, Josh Harrison and Riley Reid all broke the 9:45 barrier in the 3,200 meters Friday at the BYU Invitational. It’s believed to be the first time three Cache Valley high school runners from the same school have ever completed this race in less than 10 minutes in the same season.
Jeppsen, a sophomore, finished seventh in the 1A-3A division with a time of 9:38. Harrison placed eighth and clocked in at 9:39, while fellow junior Reid was 12th with his time of 9:43. All three athletes had personal record performances, to boot.
“It was an incredible thing to see,” Preston head coach Brandon Lyon said. “All three of them raced about as well as you could ask for at this meet. ... Those three have always had that in them. It took good conditions, good competition. You know, you don’t see (those kinds of times) very often, especially around our area. ... And the thing is, is they’re still young, all three of them, and they have a lot of room to grow still, so it will be exciting to watch them for the next little while.”
Another local distance runner who continues to shine this spring is Sky View’s Arianna Steiner, and the future Utah State competitor had her best race Friday. The senior placed fifth in a loaded 4A-6A field in the 3,200 and lowered her own school record by at least 11 seconds by crossing the finish line in 11:01.22. Former Mountain Crest standout Miranda O’Very is the only Cache Valley girl in at least the last 15 years to complete that race in less than 11 minutes.
Sky View head coach Jim Walker credited Bobcat distance coach Weston Hall for helping Steiner evolve into one of the state’s elite distance runners.
“He’s just fantastic,” Walker said of Hall. “He’s with these kids all year round over the last two, three years. ... Obviously, it’s been fun to see Arianna develop over the last couple of years. I mean, she’s just all in and I think if you work as hard as she has or does consistency all year round, putting in the mileage she does, you’re going to excel. And she’s earned it, she deserves it and she’s obviously talented. We’re excited to see her continue to her career at Utah State.”
Another Bobcat who showed his mettle Friday was future BYU football player Caleb Christensen. The senior missed at least the first month of the season with a hamstring injury, but is starting to find his form.
Christensen was the bronze medalist in the long jump with a mark of 21 feet, 9.5 inches. He is the defending 4A state champion in that event. Christensen also qualified for Saturday’s final in the 100-meter dash with his season-best clocking of 11.23.
Jonathan Hansen, Christensen’s friend and teammate, is also starting to enjoy some success, despite not being 100 percent healthy. Hansen was recently diagnosed with Graves’ disease, which causes the body to make more thyroid hormone than it needs.
As a result, the senior sprinter has only competed in a few meets, but has made some significant strides this week. Hansen ran a season-best time of 23.00 in Friday’s 200 qualifying rounds and has completed the 100 faster than 11.60 twice this week.
“Jon has that illness and, to be honest, I didn’t think we were going to get him back,” Walker said. “I think the reason why he’s doing probably better than one might expect given the fact that he hasn’t trained this season is, again, because of the work he put in before the season started. ... He’s such a great kid and he had a couple bad luck years with football, with the shoulder injury, and so it’s good to see him finish out his senior year and salvaging something from that.”
Three other local athletes who shined on Day 1 of Utah’s most prestigious prep meet were Logan’s Bracken Taylor, Ridgeline’s Olivia Smith and Green Canyon’s Jayden Beach.
Taylor came oh so close to breaking 50 seconds for the first time in his career in the 400, but still easily qualified for Saturday’s finals by completing the race in 50.00 — the fourth-fastest qualifying time.
Smith ran a blistering season-best time of 45.32 in the 300 hurdles, placing sixth to advance to the finals.
Beach earned the right to occupy the No. 5 spot on the podium in the high jump by clearing the bar at 5-2.25. Earlier this week at the Bees Invitational, Beach won the event and punched her ticket to the 4A State Championships by clearing 5-0.
Like Taylor and Smith, Mountain Crest’s Alisabeth Apedaile and Preston’s Scott Dunn secured their spot in the finals in an individual event. Apedaile PRed in the preliminary rounds of the 100 hurdles (eighth qualifying position, 15.53), as did Dunn in the 200 (sixth position, 22.88).
Several local competitors placed in the top 15 in an individual event on Day 1 of the meet: Preston’s Andie Bell in the 3,200 (ninth, 11:54); Preston’s Riley Ward in the 3,200 (13th, 12:01); Ridgeline’s Halle Livingston in the 100 hurdles (10th, 15.71); Preston’s Alexis Harris in the 300 hurdles (12th, 49.03); Preston’s Andrew Iverson in the 300 hurdles (12th, 42.09); Preston’s Ashley Lowe-Anderson in the pole vault (eighth, 7-6.25); Preston’s Quincy Hyde in the pole vault (10th, 7-02.5); Logan’s Tabitha Hansen in the pole vault (T12th, 8-0); Logan’s Amber Kartchner in the high jump (15th, 4-11.75); Logan’s Bo Stearns in the long jump (15th, 20-2.5); Preston’s Josh Seamons in the shot put (14th, 41-11.25); Sky View’s Collin Robison in the javelin (15th, 151-11.5); Preston’s Kaden Barnard in the 200 (12th, 23.41); Preston’s Dunn in the 100 (15th, 11.53).
Another noteworthy performance was turned in by Logan’s Damon Simmons, who ran a state qualifying time of 11.34 in the 100.
West Side’s top two runners sparkled at Friday’s Herriman Invitational. For starters, Cyrus Rindlisbacher won the 110 hurdles in 14.67, which is the fastest time by a local prep athlete in the event in at least 15 years. The senior currently ranks fifth this season in Idaho, regardless of classification, in the 110 hurdles.
“It is a lot of fun,” Rindlisbacher said of beating competitors from much bigger schools. “It’s especially fun because they have no clue what school I come from, but they know who I am. They’re like, ‘I don’t even know ... where your school is, but I know you’re fast.’ And it’s just a different kind of feel. I can go compete against kids that are subpar or are not bad, and I won’t run to my full potential. I just feel like when I run against those kids (from big schools) I get pushed to do my best.”
Rindlisbacher was also the runner-up in the 400 with a PR clocking of 50.44, despite running into a pretty sizable head wind.
Jacob Moffat also fared well for the Pirates. The junior was the bronze medalist in the 800 (1:59.70) and 1,600 (4:33.77), and PRed by three seconds in the shorter of the two races. Moffat is the first local high school athlete to break 2 minutes in the 800 this spring.
West Side will host the 2A Fifth District Championships next Tuesday and Wednesday, while Ridgeline will host the Region 12 Championships next Wednesday and Thursday. Preston will travel to Rupert, Idaho, for its district meet next Thursday and Friday.