Everything old may not be new again in prep cross country this season. Past champions could well give up their crowns to new ones. Still, those who've watched Mountain View's seemingly endless string of 4A girls state championships, along with the Bruins joining with Viewmont and Bingham as the perennial top 4A boys teams, may be in for something different in late October.
With the season entering its second half and with just one major invitational left before region and state championships are decided, it's the Mountain View boys, not the girls, who seem odds-on favorites to wear the 4A crowns when finals are held October 28th at Sugarhouse Park.Following last Saturday's Murray Invitational, a meet which the Bruins won handily with a score of just 51 points, Mountain View coach Dave Houle stated his boys team has more depth this season than his girls team, something a bit unusual for the Bruins, who've won seven straight 4A girls titles and eight consecutive state championships when counting the 3A crown of 1984.
"We're running really well right now," Houle understated. "Our depth is good, and we've avoided injuries and illness thus far. It's kind of flip flopped from the past, when our girls have had more depth."
Mountain View is led by Ryan Bybee, the latest in the Bybee family of runners who've helped propel the Bruins to greatness. Dula Parkinson, Zak Jones, Dan Holm and Jason Blackham generally round out the Bruins' top five, with plenty of other contenders constantly pushing towards the top. Mountain View hopes its score at Murray will help propel the Bruins into Harrier Magazine's national rankings at month's end, and most coaches agree that this is probably the team to beat in boys 4A.
There are other strong contenders, however, such as defending state champ Viewmont. Coach Lynn Dubois' team has placed in the top two four times in the past five years, and this year's team is led by Jed Johansen, who has a chance to be state medalist along with Bybee, Brighton's Jeff Bray, Orem's Randy Dean and Timpview's Mike Strauss. Viewmont has had just the opposite luck of Mountain View with regards to injuries and illness. Jeremy Call, ninth in state a year ago, injured his leg in a PE class last week and didn't compete at Murray. Ditto for Pete Hess, the Vikes' number three runner, whose been fighting off a virus. And the Vikes have been trying to find a fifth runner who can consistently perform with Johansen, Call, Hess and Phil Stoddard. Junior Steve Thompson has generally been that runner. A healthy Viewmont team should be a strong contender for another state title.
Strauss will certainly help Timpview's cause this year, and Bray will give the Bengals of Brighton a decent shot at a strong state finish, but if you want to find a sleeper in 4A boys, try Roy. The Royals may be somewhat unknown to the public, but with Jason Schoenfeld and Jon Green leading the way, Roy has to be considered a serious contender.
"I think Roy is an outstanding team," Dubois stated. "They were sixth last year and they've got almost everyone back. They'll sneak up on some people before the year's out."
In 4A girls, Mountain View will likely be tested by Utah County neighbor Orem, a team which beat the Bruins at the Provo Invitational two weekends ago but then skipped a repeat matchup at Murray. Led by Adi Sorenson, Lydia Meservy and Jill Nielsen, the Lady Tigers will give the Bruins a big challenge for a ninth straight title.
"I think Orem has to be considered the best in the state right now," Houle stated. "They ran so well in Provo. We're excited about the challenge of facing them."
The Bruins will be led by Heather Frushour and Tami Thomas, with a group of fine runners backing them up. Timpview's Judy Hoffman, Viewmont's Jenny Wadley and Jody Atkinson of Highland are among the other top contenders for state medalist. The Region 4 championships, which will pit Mountain View, Orem and Timpview, may prove to be the most interesting races of the year in prep cross country.
In 3A boys, two-time defending champion Judge Memorial will most likely be challenged by Skyview, Mountain Crest and Spanish Fork. Bountiful also has a strong team returning, led by sophomore Jon Jackson. Andrew Scivally, a junior at Woods Cross, is among the top medalists candidates as well. For the 3A girls, Anna Watkins of Mountain Crest could help her team overcome defending champ Logan, with Judge Memorial, Cedar City, Ogden and Skyview among the contenders as well.