Arrogance in athletics is not only accepted today, it is expected.

Sports figures seek the limelight and speak of respect only when they feel they aren't getting any. While sportsmanship often takes a back seat to showmanship, East High School has two cross country runners that are as successful as young athletes can be, and arrogance isn't even in their vocabulary.Elizabeth Jackson and Sarah Gardiner each set state cross country records while winning state titles, but they run for personal satisfaction rather than glory.

"I've run for two years," Gardiner said. "I've done it long enough that I know it's what I want to do but I've worked it out so I still have a balanced life. I want to always run, I love it."

"A lot of runners take it too seriously," Jackson said. "We take it seriously but we still have a lot of fun."

Each runner said part of her enjoyment comes from meeting the competition from around the state and interacting with her friends on the team. Instead of trying to gain an advantage when talking to other runners, each enjoys the social time before a race.

"It is fun to make a nice atmosphere," Jackson said.

The two credit teammate Anique Momfrooy, who is headed to the University of Utah on a running scholarship for providing their race philosophy: "A race is a celebration of our hard work."

Each girl has had to make sacrifices to achieve running success but they haven't ignored other important aspects of life. Gardiner is a 4.0 student and plays the flute. Jackson carries a 3.85 GPA, plays the violin and joins Gardiner on the dance company.

Make no mistake, these teammates do work hard and humble or not, the competition can never take them lightly. Between them they have the three best times recorded on the state course.

Jackson, a senior, didn't start cross country until last season but took state this year with an all-time record of 17:40. Gardiner finished second.

"She bloomed as a runner in about six months," said coach Dale Stagg. "It usually takes three or four years."

Gardiner, a junior, won her title last year when she asked one of her nine siblings to watch her race. He replied with sarcasm that he would on the condition that she win. She set a three-mile record with a time of 17:47; ten seconds better than the next competitor. Next season, with Jackson gone, she will be a heavy favorite to win the title again. She is reluctant to share specific goals but is looking forward to her senior year.

Stagg says both of his runners are coach's dreams.

"They both have the heart of a champion. You don't coach that, kids develop it from within. That is what makes them both great and they are both great."

According to Jackson and Gardiner, a big factor in their success has been training together.

"Without Sarah to run with, I would be nowhere near where I am now," Jackson said. "She is really someone to look up to."

"Shut-up, you are," Gardiner laughed embarrassed by the comment.

"They are great leaders," Stagg said. "They both got a tremendous hand at a student assembly and not just because they are great athletes. They are great kids."