OREM — The Orem Kiwanis Cross Country Invitational attracted 991 runners from 34 high schools to Utah Valley State College Saturday. But when the dust settled, two runners from the same 3A school posted the meet's fastest times.
Judge Memorial's Samantha Gaffney won the girls 5K in 18:44 and teammate Pat Smyth outsprinted Viewmont's Brian McKenna to win the boys 5K by two-tenths of a second in 15:50.
"It was a good race," said Gaffney, who led wire-to-wire. "There are some pretty fast girls here. A win's always great, but it was a little harder at the end than I expected. There was a lot of mud; you sink kind of deep here."
The duel between Smyth and McKenna could not have been any closer. Smyth led early and fell behind, but was barely able to edge McKenna at the finish line.
"I just stuck with (McKenna) and tried to catch him at the end," said Smyth. "I was ahead for the first mile-and-a-half, then he took the lead. He kept going, and I didn't catch him until the end."
"(Smyth) started his kick before I started mine," said McKenna. "I waited until about halfway down the straightaway to go all out. His momentum just carried him through. I was impressed."
Fremont's Alexis Meyer and Cassie Ricks finished first and third, respectively, in girls 5A to propel the Silverwolves to a narrow 31-43 victory over Cherry Creek of Colorado.
"Cassie and I tried to keep it together, just move up and try to help our team place really well today," said Meyer, who clocked an 18:57. "We wanted to pick it up every mile just a little bit more so we could get in the top places. There were a lot of good runners here today, so it was hard but we did pretty well."
McKenna beat Davis High's Josh Adams and Jordan's Jared Bienlien in boys 5A. Despite not placing a runner in the top five, Cherry Creek edged Davis 77-72 for the team title.
In girls 4A, Orem dominated. Freshman Krystal Harper, victorious in 18:54, led a Tiger contingent that placed five runners in the top nine.
"I kind of beat them up this week, so I wasn't expecting them to run so well," said Orem coach Marie Glahn. "They surprised me; they ran awesome. Mentally, the girls were ready to race today. They went out and did it."
Orem, led by a one-two finish from Tim Rowberry and Race Ostler, also emerged victorious in boys 4A.
Gaffney and Smyth spurred Judge Memorial onto a sweep of the boys and girls team titles in the combined 1A-3A division.