SALT LAKE CITY — Oh what a difference a year can make.
Arianna Steiner capped off a stellar high school season Wednesday at Sugarhouse Park on a nearly perfect day for running as it was overcast, with a cool breeze at times and temperatures in the low 60’s. The Bobcat senior was the top finisher from Region 12 — male or female — at the 4A State Girls Cross Country Championship. She crossed the finish line in 18 minutes, 8.9 seconds, which would have been good for a state title in most classifications Wednesday.
However, Steiner was competing against a loaded field in 4A and took third. Lehi’s Anna Martin set a course record, clocking in at 17:15.0 to win the individual title after finishing second in 2017.
“It was a good way to end the season,” Steiner said. “... That 17:15 is insanely fast. That is so cool.”
Finishing between the speedy Pioneer and Steiner was Mountain View’s Helena Miyazawa in 17:48.0. Desert Hills ended a two-year reign by Pine View atop the team standings as the Thunder scored 55 points to the Panthers’ 78. Rounding out the top five was Ogden (102), Mountain View (124) and Cedar (154).
Ridgeline was the top team from Region 12, coming in seventh with 227 points. The Riverhawks moved up two spots from last year.
“Our times are much faster this year, and we had five girls make our top 10 list for running at state for Ridgeline,” Ridgeline head coach Mary Kirby said. “It was awesome. They ran really well. ... We placed higher than last year, so that was great.”
There are many reasons Steiner was happy and relieved with the way her final cross country race for Sky View went. A year ago, Steiner got off to a good start at the state meet, only to deal with an IT band issue and slip all the way to 51st. She was nearly two-and-a-half minutes faster this year at state than in 2017.
“I can’t even remember where I finished last year, but it definitely was no where near where I was today,” Steiner said with a laugh. “... I’ve never run this fast down here. I think the weather definitely played into it. I always run better in the cold. ... This was so fitting to end it this way.”
This was Steiner’s fourth state appearance, but obviously her best.
Many miles and hours of work before the season began paid off for the Sky View runner.
“She (Steiner) is incredible,” SV head coach John Womack said. “I’ve had a lot of kids work really hard, but she has just been incredible and consistent in workouts, offseason stuff and had a great track season last spring. ... I thought she could finish in the top three today. It’s been an incredible season and fun to watch.”
At region meets, Steiner had been running the first mile a bit slower and then picking up the pace. She had to change the game plan a bit at state as there were 122 runners. The senior did not want to get buried the pack or get boxed in as the course narrows.
“I went out and tried to set a good pace, attack that first hill and settle down,” Steiner said. “... I took the first mile a little faster than I should have, but I got out there and didn’t get boxed in.”
A mile into the 3.0-mile course, Steiner was fifth. The top five girls had built some distance from the rest of the field.
“It was nice to have the girls ahead of me to push me harder,” said Steiner, who had won many region races this fall by two minutes. “I saw the girls ahead of me and went for it.”
She was able to pass two Pine View runners over the last mile and a half. Steiner glided down the track at Highland High School to finish with a smile on her face. While she has almost always looked like she is not straining at all this season, Steiner said that is not really the case.
“I’m definitely not comfortable,” Steiner said. “The more mileage I’ve put in, the better my form has been. It may look like I’m not in any pain at all, but it’s the form.”
Steiner is narrowing down schools she wants to apply to and see if they are interested in her running ability at the next level. She declined to name any.
The Riverhawks were led by Madison Patrick. The sophomore moved up seven places from her freshman run at state and was 25 seconds faster as she covered the course in 19:18.7.
“Oh my gosh, everyone did better this year; I think everyone PRed,” Patrick said. “It was awesome on this course. ... We had three freshmen running, and I just told them, ‘Hey, you are up here (on varsity) and deserve it, running good times and pushing through pain. This (state) isn’t anything different. You guys can do it.’”
Fellow Riverhawk sophomore Emily Spaulding was 22nd in 19:26.6. She felt like the entire team was faster this year.
“I felt pretty good,” Spaulding said. “I pushed my very hardest and did the best I could. ... We worked a lot harder this year to get up (in the standings).”
And it paid off.
Green Canyon (297) was 12th, while Sky View (366) was 15th. The Wolves were led by Taylor Hancey, who finished 42nd in 20:09.0, followed by her twin Lauren Hancey in 51st in 20:20.7.
Logan and Mountain Crest did not qualify as a team, but had individual runners. The Grizzlies’ lone runner was Abigail Blanchard, who took 56th in 20:31.2. Katie Killpack was the top Mustang in 96th (21:50.2).