Some of Utah's premier prep track and field talent headed to California Friday. And they are carrying the state's banner with them.

"Our reputation is on the line," said Mountain View coach Dave Houle, who is accompanying eight of his school's athletes to the prestigious Arcadia Invitational on Saturday night. "We want to make our mark and prove that we belong here."The "we" Houle is referring to is the contingent of 30-plus boys and girls from area high schools who are making the trip to Arcadia, where they'll be up against the nation's best.

The local hopefuls will battle top athletes from high school track hotbeds like California, Oregon, Washington and Texas. The event has been known to attract 10,000 fans.

"It's big-time," said Keith Robinson, a former BYU All-America decathlete.

Robinson, who trains young athletes and publishes a monthly newsletter on Utah track, will be in attendance. "It's like the preseason national championship. If you win down there, you're awesome. I think Utah kids will win their share of events down there."

While during the season competition for state supremacy is fierce, the Utah group is united, at least in spirit-even though scoring at the meet is not a team-scored event, but rather based on individual performance.

"There's a lot of pride at stake," said Mountain View thrower Dan Arrhenius, who finished second in the shot put last season at Arcadia.

"Utah kids cheer for each other," said Houle. "We want everybody from Utah to do well."

According to Robinson, local track stacks up favorably to other areas. "Like I've been saying for years, per capita, Utah is the best track and field state in the nation. Hands down."

Among the local participants include Arrhenius, Mountain View's Ryan Andrus (the mile), Davis' Greg Flint (110-meter hurdles), Roy's Angie Poulsen (400 meters) and Bear River's Amanda Busenbark (110-meter dash).