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Skyline ready for run at state

HOLLADAY — Skyline has never won a state title in cross country, and coach Tom Porter is reminded of it all the time.

"Almost every day at school I look up at all those championship banners Skyline has hanging up, and maybe not everyone notices, but I always notice that there is not one up there for cross country," said Porter. "Maybe this is the year we can stop that and put one of those up."

If Friday's Region II meet at Cottonwood Complex is any indication, Porter's words could ring true. The Eagles dominated the event, taking not only the team titles on both the boys and girls sides, but both individual titles as well.

"I thought our whole team did a good job," said Morgan Empey, a junior and the second-place finisher among the boys. "Coach (Porter) has done a good job preparing us. He makes us work really hard, but at the same time we are having a lot of fun."

The individual winners for the Eagles were not a big surprise. Shalaya Kipp is the defending 5A state champion and continued her domination as she ran away from the competition, finishing more than :30 seconds ahead of the second-place runner.

"It was a nice race," said Kipp. "I kind of started to pull away pretty early and I had a little doubt that said, 'Am I making a move too soon?' But I settled into a groove and just cruised from there."

Jordan's Steph Burt finished second, but was more than satisfied with her race.

"You can't really compare yourself to Shalaya. You just have to worry about your own race," she said. "I felt good out there and just kept remembering what coach (Greg Cramer) always tells us: 'No one from behind.' So I just made sure nobody passed me. I'm pretty happy about taking second."

Stephen Clark is the defending 5A champion on the boys side and turned in an incredible performance. His 15:17 set a new course record and gave him nearly a minute cushion on his nearest competition. Without anyone near him to push him along, Clark finds his motivation to go faster from another source.

"That was a pretty good one," Clark said of his run. "I think I might be able to go a little bit faster if I had someone there with me pushing me, so I think of my family and friends. I think of how much they support me. That, and I think of all the hard work I have put in, all the times I have pushed myself a little harder, a little farther. Those things help get me through a race when I am alone."

While Skyline dominated, Jordan and Alta qualified for state in both the boys and girls competitions. The Hillcrest boys qualified for state for the first time in more than a decade, and the Brighton girls took the other spot for state.