Aaron Morris, Crimson Cliffs (Jr.)
Aaron Morris was the unsung hero of Crimson Cliffs’ impressive two-game sweep of defending state champion Snow Canyon last week.
Morris came on in relief in both games, pitching 4⅔ innings while striking out nine and only allowing three hits and zero runs. On Tuesday he came on in relief of winning pitcher Beau Sampson and then on Friday in relief of Jaiven Ross. He was up to the challenge each time, lowering his ERA in 16⅓ innings this year to 0.42.
He is 2-0 on the season with two saves, 16 strikeouts and just four walks.
“Aaron is tough a competitor and has grit. He’s ready for the moment. Aaron’s work ethic has been through the roof and he has worked so hard this last year. He’s conditioned himself for these opportunities. Aaron is a great teammate and student who carries a 4.0 GPA. We’re proud of Aaron and the example he has set for our team,” said Crimson Cliffs coach Justin Abbott.
Peyton Hall, Spanish Fork (Jr.)
Peyton Hall crammed a season’s worth of stats for most players into one five-day period last week.
In six games — four of which were at the Payson Icebreaker tournament — the Spanish Fork junior belted out six home runs, recorded four doubles and drove in 19 runs as 5A’s top-ranked Dons went 6-0 over the week.
For the season Hall is batting .619 with a state-best 11 home runs and a state-best 37 RBIs.
“Peyton always shows up with a great attitude and does her job. She hypes up her teammates every inning and strives to get better every chance she gets. Peyton is a very talented athlete and a great asset to our team,” said Spanish Fork coach Natalie Jarvis.
In Spanish Fork’s 14-0 win over Juab, Hall went 4 for 4 with one double, three home runs and six RBIs.
Jackson George, Salem Hills (Sr.)
Salem Hills is the last remaining undefeated team in 5A soccer, and the steady play along the backline from senior center back Jackson George is a huge reason why.
Salem Hills has only allowed one goal in nine matches this season, that a 2-1 win over Highland. The Skyhawks have shut out every other opponent.
“Jackson is a special player. He would be the first to credit his entire team, especially praising their work rate and gritty play. I love Jackson. He anchors our defense at center back. He is calm on the ball, strong in the air, vocal and great at organizing. The boys love playing with him. He infuses our entire team with a progress mindset. And when it comes to pressure situations, there is no one you’d rather have on your side than Jackson. He is fun to be with and fun to coach,” said Salem Hills coach Jerry Johnson.
George has also scored a goal this season, that in a 4-0 win over Grand.
Rhett Rice, Davis (Sr.)
The consistent play of senior middie Rhett Rice has propelled Davis to the front of the Region 1 pack through the first month of the season.
A Deseret News first team all-stater last year, Rice is tearing things up this spring with 27 goals in six games. Last week he scored six goals in a win over Syracuse and then a couple days earlier scored five goals and recorded two goals in a win over Clearfield.
“He hasn’t missed a beat from last year and is even more vital to our team this year. He is a forced to be reckoned with when dodging, clearing or even when he is on the defensive half. Not only can he sting the corners going full speed but his field awareness to find the open guy after the slide is second to none. Keep an eye on Rhett to keep filling the stat sheet all year,” said Davis coach Dillon Yocom.
Rice was also named an academic All-American last year.
Simone Parker, Corner Canyon (Sr.)
Corner Canyon earned a pair of convincing wins last week over Pleasant Grove and Westlake, and senior Simone Parker had a big hand in both games.
Parker scored six goals in the win over Pleasant Grove and then added eight goals and an assist in the win over Westlake. For the season she has 29 goals for the Chargers.
“Simone Parker is an amazing kid on and off the field. She is one of our captains and has been starting varsity at Corner Canyon since her freshman year. She is the engine that drives our team. She runs our offense, can score from anywhere, gets every ground ball within her grasp and is an amazing defender. Simone never takes a play off and runs full field for the entire game without ever showing signs of getting tired or slowing down at the end of a game,” said Corner Canyon coach Matt Kenning.
Mark Bryant, Orem (Sr.)
A month into the 2022 track and field season and Mark Bryant has again established himself as the premier thrower in Utah.
Bryant won 5A state titles a year ago in both the shot put and discus, and already this year he owns the top throw in Utah in each of those events.
Last week at the UVU Invite he threw the discus 177’05.00, the best throw in Utah by over 11 feet this year. Earlier this year at the Pine View Invitational, he tossed the shot put 61’08 for the state’s best throw this season.
“Mark is a great athlete and a very hard worker. He and his twin brother Erik push each other and the rest of the team to be the best they can be,” said Orem coach Andy Jacobs.
Last week at the UVU Invite Mark Bryant and Erik Bryant both threw the shot put 57’10,
Eliza Smith, Bingham (Sr.)
Eliza Smith is one of the top hurdlers in the state, and she reiterated that fact over the weekend.
Racing in the Timpanogos meet and the Bingham meet just a couple days apart last week, Smith earned a first-place and second-place finish in both the 100- and 300-meter hurdles.
Her time in the 100 hurdles of 15.02 at the Alpha Invite at Timpanogos is the best mark in the state this season and then her time of 45.76 in the 300 hurdles at Bingham is the second best time in Utah. She finished second in that race by just .02 seconds.
“She is having a great season. I am so excited to see her so close to her PR’s after only a few months removed from a surgery on her feet. I have been so surprised by her quick recovery and progress, but at the same time I’m not. She is one of the hardest working athletes on the team! She has infectious personality and is a great leader to all of her teammates,” said Bingham coach Vance Brown.
Smith is the reigning 6A state champ in the 100 hurdles and the runner-up in the 300 hurdles.
Hardy Owen, Brighton (Sr.)
Brighton senior Hardy Owen is off to a perfect start this high school season, which shouldn’t come as a surprise for one of the top players in the country in his age group.
The BYU commit recently participated in the USTA National Level 2 tournament in Oahu, Hawaii, earning wins in both singles and doubles. A year ago he was ranked No. 3 in his age group by USTA National and No. 1 in the Intermountain region by the USTA.
“Hardy is an extremely talented young man with a passion for tennis like none other. I have loved the opportunity to work with him on Brighton’s tennis team. He has great team spirit, and I love his calmness on the court. Hardy’s tennis is an art form and beautiful to watch. He is a fun-loving young man, and I am excited for him to have an amazing last season at Brighton and to see what he does in the future at BYU,” said Brighton coach Natalie Meyer.
Hardy was the 5A first singles state champ this year, and in the UHSAA initial RPI individual rankings that were released last week he earned the top seed.
Ashley Lam, Skyline (So.)
A third-place finisher at the 5A state meet last year, Skyline’s Ashley Lam is tearing it up this year in her sophomore season.
Lam opened the season with a 2-under 70 at Glendale Golf Course and then in the second Region 6 match of the year she posted 7-under 65 to win comfortably.
“Ashley has incredible focus and determination; she stays in the moment as well as any golfer I have ever known. She can do anything on the golf course,” said Skyline coach Kenny James.