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The Bear River cross country team focused on their first big invitational of the season and the effort paid off.

After starting the season training through races and putting in a lot of work, the runners from Garland decided to lace up their spikes and lay down some speed at the Top of Utah Invitational on Friday, Sept. 3.

The race was directed by Head Coach Dan Line and included 22 teams from northern Utah, including two of the best 6A programs in the state in Farmington (coached by Bear River’s own Chris Brower) and perennial state and national power Davis High.

“Coach MacSparran and I started this race over 15 years ago here in town and the opportunity to grow the meet and hold it in Ogden came up so we have kept at it,” Line said. “We had almost 1,200 athletes run and our kids held their own and did great.”

In the varsity 3A-4A division, Bears senior Matt Spotten took fifth (15:38.4) in a loaded field and was followed by fellow senior Phillip Gallegos, who placed 12th with his best race of the season (15:50.9). Kael Kowallis also shined with an excellent time of 16:13.9, placing 19th.

Seniors Will Rhodes and Kenneth Pingle rounded out the boys varsity in that race. “We finished fifth in the team standings and we weren’t too far out of second,” Line said.

The three Bear boys in the 6A-Open JV race ran blistering times of 15:47.3 for sophomore Braxton Craven, 16:04.8 for Ammon Hunter and 16:10.2 for sophomore David Bourgeous.

The girls squad also had their best race yet, taking second overall behind Ridgeline. Senior Liz Phillips kept the pace for the team with an excellent third-place finish (18:06.5). Sophomore Becca Curtis took seventh (19:10.6), while newcomer Bethany Richard missed the medal stand by 0.3 seconds, running 19:17.2 to place 11th. The girls varsity finished up with Katie Wynn (19:44.1), Shylee Kofoed (20:20.6) and Madison Auble (21:17.4).

“After getting trounced by Rigdeline last week we came back and showed our mettle,” Coach Tyrell Neal said. “The results today show the girls that they should have one goal in mind come region.”

As in the boys’ race, the coaches decided to let some new and younger athletes take it on in the girls’ JV race. Mattie Winward took second (19:14.4), while Makayla Arnold was the second-best freshman with a time of 20:39.3.

Winward’s time would have been good enough for eighth place in the varsity race, which Neal said would have tied the Bears with the first-place Riverhawks overall.

Mattie Winward shined in the JV race placing 2nd with a time of 19:14.4.

Phillips and Curtis were Best of Class winners as two of the top Seniors and Sophomores in the entire field counting all classifications.

In a smaller race last Wednesday the team traveled to Green Canyon for a regular region dual meet. The boys beat Green Canyon again and the girls took second.

On the boys side, the Bears took five of the top seven spots (Gallegos, 17:08, 2nd; Hunter, 17:12, 4th; Spotten, 17:19, 5th; Bourgeous, 17:21, 6th; Kowallis, 17:40, 7th).

On the girls side, the Bears had five top-10 finishers (Phillips, 20:48, 2nd; Curtis, 20:56, 4th; Richard, 21:05, 6th; Wynn, 21:35, 9th; Auble, 21:54, 10th).

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