After a Class 5A championship in boys' cross-country, the prospects of a repeat title for the Jordan Beetdiggers doesn't look very promising considering they lost their top six runners to graduation.
"I don't think you can replace those guys but we're running well with the guys we do have," Jordan head coach Clay Twigg said.
Big expectations are being made for the Skyline boys, led by senior Conner Kamm. The Eagles are ready to dethrone Jordan in the region.
"I have two of the best runners in the state," says head coach Tom Porter. "Nobody should touch us."
In addition to Kamm, the Eagles have four senior runners and sophomore great, Stephen Clark. The Eagles have built a strong program in part because they have a lot of runners, Porter says. "We have 52 kids on the team. They see a successful program and they want to part of that."
The Alta boys are also a very deep team. Some of the Region 2 coaches are predicting that they will challenge for the top spot.
Top runner senior Trace Stay leads Brighton. Numbers haven't been the problem for the Bengals, slow starts have.
Hillcrest and Taylorsville have very similar outlooks. Huskies head coach Rob Collins has been slowly revamping the team and finding enough runners is a problem of the past.
"We didn't have full teams sometimes," he said. "This year, we set our standards higher. Qualifying for state is realistic for us," Collins says. If they get John Martinez back from injury, the Huskies could surprise a few teams.
Taylorsville cross-country teams have been strong in the past but they are not looking so promising this year. The program has suffered coaching changes and a lack of interest. Look for the Warriors to bring up the rear in Region 6.
Most of the coaches believe the girls' race for the region title will come down to Alta, Skyline and Jordan. The Hawks are the defending region champs and want to stay that way. The Alta girls have good depth and experience; they'll be tough to beat.
Skyline sophomore Rachel Webb is one of the top runners in the state. As a team, Porter says the girls will compete but it won't be easy. "It's very close between Alta, Skyline and Jordan. You just can't tell right now."
Hillcrest, Brighton and Taylorsville could be scrambling for fourth place in the region. The Huskies could finish ahead of Brighton and Taylorville if junior Becca Riddle runs for the team. Coach Collins has her on the roster but she's also playing varsity soccer. He says the cross-country team would be greatly improved if she runs.
Here's the coaches outlook for boys and girls in Region 2 cross-country:
SKYLINE: The boys have a great chance to win the region title. They're a senior-laden team with two outstanding runners. The Skyline girls will have a tougher time winning the region. Their success depends on how much depth they show. Alta and Jordan will be very competitive.
ALTA: The boys are strong but coach Robert Murphy won't be able to match the Eagles runners. Senior Jared Burnett is the Hawks' top runner and one of the best in the state. The Lady Hawks are the defending region champions and most coaches in the region favor them to repeat again.
"They're going to be right there," says Jordan Coach Clay Twiggs. They are a strong team with lots of runners and they could be tough to beat. Freshman runner Marissa Floodman will set the tone for Alta.
JORDAN: Class 5A Boys cross-country champions are trying to rebuild on the fly. The Beetdiggers lost six runners from that squad and know they're not the favorites. "We feel pretty good about our chances but Skyline is the team to beat," coach Twiggs says. The Beetdigger girls are contenders for the region title and it should be a very tight race with Alta and Skyline. Led by seniors Aaron Fuller and Megan Homer, they like their chances of coming out on top.
BRIGHTON: The boys' and girls' teams bring out a lot of runners and should be strong contenders for a 3rd or 4th place finish. The coaches say the Bengals are a strong team but might be a notch below Alta and Jordan.
HILLCREST: The Huskies could be the surprise team of the region. After struggling to field a team for the past five years, the Huskies may have a realistic chance to qualify for state. Junior Tavin Stucki, sophomore Stephen Heard and injured runner John Martinez lead the Boys team. The girls' team is also looking up. Led by Sharon Olsen, the Huskies could be on the verge of making it to state for the first time in a while.
TAYLORSVILLE: Changes of coaches and lack of interest has put the Warriors cross-country teams in rebuilding mode. The similarities with Hillcrest are worth pointing out. Huskies head coach says, "The two programs are very close right now and they have equal runners to ours." With the change in coaches, it could take some time to get cross-country going again at Taylorsville.