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High school cross-country: Hurricane’s Caila Odekirk and Josh Armstrong sweep 4A titles as Region 9 teams dominate state meet

Caila Odekirk of Hurricane High School wins the 4A state girls high school cross-country championship in Cedar City on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020.
Caila Odekirk of Hurricane High School wins the 4A state girls high school cross-country championship in Cedar City on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020.
Ravell Call, Deseret News

CEDAR CITY — Sweeping the 4A boys and girls cross-country championship was always something Hurricane knew was possible on Wednesday, but there was the same feeling last year too.

Hurricane junior Caila Odekirk took care of business in her race in dominant fashion at Cedar City High School, which left the sweep up to senior Josh Armstrong.

A year ago, he went into state as perhaps the favorite but finished eighth, behind five runners that he’d beat at Region 9 meet just a couple weeks earlier.

This year, there were no surprises.

Armstrong pulled out in front after the first mile and was never threatened the rest of the way as he captured the elusive state title with a great time of 15:24.5, followed by Desert Hills’ Carson Helmer in second in 15:31.3.

“I’ve come into other state championships ranked really high and I knew I could win it, but I just came up short and choked. But this year about halfway through the season I finally figured out my mental game. It means so much to me to finally pull through and win a state championship,” said Armstrong.

He said that following Odekirk has been a pleasure.

“Every time I watch her run it’s just so awesome. It’s hard to run on your own,” said Armstrong.

Odekirk was pretty much running on her own the entire race, pulling away from the lead pack pretty quick as she cruised to a second consecutive 4A title posting a time of 17:45.5. Sky View’s Kate Dickson finished second with a time of 18:28.4

“I was trying to focus on my time and run it smart, so I just tried to leave the first pack at the start of the race and just run my own race,” said Odekirk. “I feel happy to just be here and have a season, and to be healthy at this point in the season.”

Because of COVID-19, the state championships weren’t held at the traditional Sugar House Park location in Salt Lake City. It was a disappointment for most runners to miss out on that treasured opportunity, but the coaches for the eventual team state champions said their athletes handled the situation great.

“It was fun to be here with more fans, but we really did miss being at Sugar House. It’s just such a tradition of our team and we ran really well at Sugar House the last few years. It had a different feel, but I told them from the beginning to look at the positives,” said Pine View girls coach Dave Holt, whose team won its second straight title on Wednesday.

Desert Hills coach John Powell, whose boys won the 4A title, echoed that sentiment.

“We love going up to Sugar House, but we’ve just had the attitude all year, resilience and no excuses. Our uniform has “resilient” on them,” said Powell. “I don’t think people realize how hard these kids work. They run twice a day year round, I don’t think anybody else works as hard as these guys do.”

That hard work all season led to a dominant performance at state finishing with 44 points, followed by Cedar City in second with 73 points.

The Thunder had four runners finish in the top 10, with Helmer in second, Carson Wall in third, Hunter Stucki in sixth and Brooks Barney in seventh.

For Pine View’s girls, it only had one runner finish inside the top 10 as Adri Baker ended up seventh, but all five of its runners finished inside the top 23 and that made all the difference in winning a fourth state title in the past five years.

Pine View finished with 72 points, followed by Desert Hills in second with 92 points.

Class 4A State Championships

At Cedar City High School

Boys team scores

1. Desert Hills, 44

2. Cedar City, 73

3. Hurricane, 106

4. Snow Canyon, 124

5. Pine View, 133

6. Stansbury, 168

7. Ogden, 213

8. Ridgeline, 213

Boys individual results

1. Josh Armstrong, Hurricane, 15:24.5

2. Carson Helmer, Desert Hills, 15:31.3

3. Carson Wall, Desert Hills, 15:57.0

4. Scottie Bushar, Pine View, 15:58.4

5. Peter Nielsen, Bear River, 16:01.9

6. Hunter Stucki, Desert Hills, 16:06.0

7. Brooks Barney, Desert Hills, 16:08.0

8. Logan Peel, Cedar City, 16:08.7

9. Jacob Simper, Stansbury, 16:12.4

10. Spencer Adams, Ridgeline, 16:13.4

Girls team scores

1. Pine View, 72

2. Desert Hills, 92

3. Ridgeline, 103

4. Cedar City, 141

5. Bear River, 162

6. Snow Canyon, 179

7. Hurricane, 185

8. Ogden, 225

Girls individual results

1. Caila Odekirk, Hurricane, 17:45.5

2. Kate Dickson, Sky View, 18:28.4

3. Brea Bulkley, Snow Canyon, 18:33.5

4. Gwen Sepp, Dixie, 18:40.9

5. Madison White, Bear River, 18:45.7

6. Madi Strasner, Desert Hills, 18:50.2

7. Adri Baker, Pine View, 18:50.3

8. Ruby Ludlow, Dixie, 18:52.6

9. Sarah Ellis, Crimson Cliffs, 18:53.3

10. Alexis Patrick, Ridgeline, 19:02.5