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Few if any Utah high school athletes can lay claim to the number of state championships owned by Timpview's Dave Spence.

Count them:- Three 3A state cross-country individual titles, one

each as a sophomore, junior and senior.

- Three individual titles each in the 1987 and 1988 3A state track meets, when he won the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs both years. And don't forget that he also anchored the 800 leg of Timpview's winning medley relay team last year.

- An important share of Timpview's three straight team cross-country championships (1986-88) and Timpview's two consecutive team track championships (1987-88).

The total is nine individual titles, a shared (relay) championship, and five team crowns - not counting the more that are likely to come this weekend.

Spence's illustrious prep career comes to a close at the 1989 3A state track meet, where the 18-year-old senior will be defending his own (800, 1,600 and 3,200) titles as well as the two Timpview crowns (medley relay, boys championship) that he has shared.

While some might consider such a background of outstanding outings as adding increased pressure to continue one's winning ways, Spence sees his previous performances as a personal measuring stick - one that is marked with expections.

"I'd like to run at least as fast as I did at the BYU Invitational," said Spence, who logged Utah's best-ever time of 4:13.31 in the 1,600 earlier this month. And at last year's BYU meet, he ran a 1:54 in the 800, although he has faster times in several relay outings.

One advantage for Spence is that the 3A meet will be held on the same BYU track as site of his impressive BYU Invitiational performances, though the state meet schedule will be more demanding.

Timpview Coach Brian Kuhlmann can list a number of attributes that lend themselves to Spence's successes as a runner - self-motivation, leadership by example, a heart rate that drops quickly, a consistency in winning state meets and placing in the top 10 in national track and cross country competitions. And is the best is yet to come?

"I think the next two to three years will be really strong years for him," says Kuhlmann, who says Spence's dropping of six seconds in the mile this spring suggests 4-minute times in the mile and sub-1:50 times in the half-mile.

"There have been some good distance runners come out of Utah, and he could be as good or better than anybody who's come out of the state," he said.

But most of Utah's track followers are hoping that only Spence's reputation will be leaving the state, that the Timpview runner will be competing locally when it comes to a collegiate career. And while his exploits have merited attention from states as far away as Arizona, Kansas and Tennessee, Spence is devoting a good share of his attention to the strong-track programs of Weber State and BYU.