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High school cross country: Davis wins 5A girls crown, American Fork earns boys title

SALT LAKE CITY — Shae Martinez admitted her second state title was more painful that the first.

She was in a pack until the last hundred meters of the race and at times she felt she couldn't move her legs anymore, let alone any faster.

"It was hard to break away," said the two-time 5A State Champion, who finished the 3-mile course in 18:28. "It hurt pretty bad. I couldn't move my legs."

The race was one of the closer ones with a half dozen girls in the front pack. Jordan sophomore Tavia Dutson was second with a time of 18:34.3, while Alta freshman Whitney Paskins was third, finishing in 18:36.7.

Despite her talent, there were moments when Martinez thought about letting go of the pack that was pushing her.

"There were times I wanted to give up," she said. But then she glanced down at her arm where a half dozen sets of initials were scrawled on her arm in marker. "But I didn't want to let my team down. These are the initials of my teammates, and they helped push me."

Her mantra throughout the race was simple, "When you want to give up, run for the team."

Cross country may rely on individual runners, but it's the team's effort from the best runner to the slowest that really makes successful programs. Davis High head coach Corbin Talley said that it's what he preaches to his participants from Day 1.

"Every kid here, whether they're running or not, has an assignment," he said. "We have a brown team and a gold team and the brown team takes the east side of the course and the gold team takes the west side of the course."

He said they put a copy of the course map in front of the team members and then they talk strategy.

"We go through our cheering plan the day before," he said. "We draw out the course and we talk about what we're going to do to get them (racers) to the finish."

Two of the girls who helped Davis earn its second straight title played in the school's soccer playoff game Tuesday night — Madison Garlock, who finished fourth; and Chelsey Johnson, who finished in 18th as the team's last scoring runner.

"I am thrilled with the way they ran today," said Talley. "With total heart, total determination and toughness. They followed the game plan perfectly."

Davis won the team title with 44 points (and three of the top 10 finishers), while Lehi was second with 88 points and Jordan was third with 96 points.

On the boys side, Mackenzie Morrison sprinted to his first individual 5A state title and then celebrated the team title with his teammates.

Morrison was running with teammate and defending 5A state champion Clayton Young when Davis senior Brad Nye passed them with less than 200 meters to go in the 3-mile race.

"I had started my kick, and then Clayton surprised me and it scared me," said Morrison. "I thought maybe I started my kick too soon. Brad overtook both of us, and then something inside of me just said, 'Go for it!'"

Morrison just barely edged Nye for the win with a time of 15:22.4, while Nye's time was 15:23.1. Young was third with a time of 15:31.2.

The Cavemen claimed the 5A boys state title with a jaw-dropping score of 25 points. Four of the team's runners finished in the top 10, while the fifth was 11th.

"I was a little scared at the start seeing all the other guys who had a shot at this," he said. "There was a little (pressure), but I just blew it off and thought about other things."

Morrison took up running after he beat his father in a 5K as a seventh grader. He never planned for it to be his main sport.

"In high school I was going to do soccer but I didn't make the team so I went out for cross country," he said.

American Fork head coach Timo Mostert said this title was special because his team was so young this season. Only two of the seven runners — Morrison and Young — were on last year's state championship team.

The rivalry between Morrison and Young and Nye will continue for at least a couple more months as both teams are headed to regionals in November and likely nationals in December.

Davis took second in the boys team competition with 33 points, while Bingham was third with 122 points.