The day began with eight, but now only four are still standing.
The first day of the Great 8 5A Challenge, a tournament that pits the top eight teams from Utah's largest division against one another, ended with four teams left in the running for first place: Skyline, Viewmont, Alta, Lone Peak.
The tournament format has the teams square off against one another in a series of mini duel meets with the victor being decided by the number of wins at the five varsity positions. Winners move on, and losers play the rest of the tourney in the lower bracket. Top-ranked Skyline High started off hot, downing the eighth-seeded Bingham Miners 4 matches to 1. The Eagles brought most of their team back, and looked every bit as intimidating as they did during their state championship campaign one year ago.
Skyline started its run to the title by winning the Great 8 last season and would like follow the same pattern in 2006. Head coach Joanie Daily, however, doesn't put much stock in the outcome of this tourney.
"We may have won here last year, but there have been other years when we won the Great 8 but then lost at state," she says. "This is just a good opportunity to see how good the other teams are."
Lone Peak, playing in the preseason tournament for the first time since joining 5A, also made short work of West Jordan, 5-0. Two-time state champ Kristina Doerr set the tone for the Knights, defeating her challenger 6-0, 6-3. Not to be outdone, Alta used its initial duel to make a statement for the second time in seven days. The Hawks, fresh off their 4-1 shellacking of Brighton last week, defeated Region 1 powerhouse Davis by the same score. The most exciting match of the day saw Viewmont stage a come-from-behind win over first-time participant Pleasant Grove. Viewmont's doubles teams somehow managed to go 2-0 against their Utah County counterparts despite having never played together before.