ST. GEORGE – Region 9 cross country’s best and brightest are making a pretty good argument as to why more people need to come out and support their sport.
“Year and year out, Region 9 is pretty deep,” Desert Hills coach Logan Fielding said. “Usually there are two or three Region 9 teams in the top 10 at state.”
Fielding suspects this year’s crop may offer more excitement than ever.
“Until someone beats Pine View, they’re still the favorite to win the region,” he said. “But Cedar’s girls are really tough with Aimee Bryson. Pine View has Rachel Stone, Mia Hart and Jessica Peterson, and we have Gianna D’Alessio, Courtney Allred, Alyse Nelson and Rachel Slade.”
He also mentioned Canyon View runners Kaitlyn Baker and Cambry Jensen in his pool of top notch talent.
“On the boys side, there’s solid runners in all of the schools,” Fielding said. “Snow Canyon’s got Tommy Ingalls, Dixie’s got Jason Quinn and Pine View’s got Michael Finch and Casey Kimsey andByron Warby.
“And from our team, we have Brigham Whitney, Kris Hansen and Jaren Ashby. Those are the kids I’ll be looking forward to this year. It should be good.”
Most of those runners participated in the 3A State Meet last season, although most, including Pine View coach Dave Holt, will agree that expectations were not met, specifically by his team.
“Last year we had really high hopes of continuing as state champs, but injuries took their toll,” he said. “We ended up winning region, but didn’t do well at state and dropped down to third.”
Even so, Holt insists this year Region 9 will see a new range of talent with more focus and poise than in previous seasons.
“I think the thing that’s really exciting me the most this year is that it’s a little different,” he said. “On the boys side, we’re not necessarily the favorites. So I’m excited to see what happens there.”
On the girls side, though, Holt fully expects his squad to go for broke.
“The girls really stepped up last year,” he said. “We won our second region title in a row and were able to take second in state next to Park City. In doing so, we were able to beat the 16th ranked team in the nation – Ogden. That gave our girls a lot of confidence.”
Holt’s star pupil, Jessica Peterson, agreed with her coach’s assessment.
“I definitely think we could go state,” she said. “We definitely have some great girls stepping up to varsity. Every year I’ve been here we’ve gone to state. And I plan on keeping that tradition.”
For Peterson, this season marks her final high school year. As such, she echoed the sentiments of Region 9’s graduating class when she proclaimed one ultimate goal:
“I want to make this season a really good one. It is my last season and I’m not really sure where I’m going to go after high school, so I want to do well. Not just for me, but for my team – I really want us to do well.”
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