The Evanston High School cross country teams had the opportunity to run against some of the best cross country teams in the region Saturday, Sept. 24, competing at the Utah Border Wars, in Taylorsville.
“It was a large event – there were close to 50 teams that were there from Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada,” said EHS head coach Nate Conrad. “We saw some really good competition, and it was a really awesome experience for our kids.”
Despite the insane level of competition at the meet, the Red Devils and Lady Devils did well, with most of the runners setting new seasonal or personal bests.
“From top to bottom, our kids did just a phenomenal job,” Conrad said. “Between the boys and the girls, we had 33 athletes that posted a new season or personal best. It was pretty amazing. We were able to put our runners into different categories, based on grade levels, so it wasn’t just your typical varsity and JV race.”
The EHS varsity teams competed in the Champions Division, with the Red Devils placing 16th out of 17 teams; the Lady Devils finished 16th out of 18 teams.
“We were able to get our varsity teams qualified for the Champions Division, and looking on paper, we didn’t score very well,” Conrad explained. “I think the boys finished 15th out of 17 teams. That said, our boys raced phenomenal – we were seeing some really fast times.”
Derek Parks was the top finisher for the Red Devils in the Champions Division, placing 59th, with a time of 16:39.40. Hyrum Baxter was second on the team, placing 71st, with a time of 16:53.87. Gideon Stahl (94th, 17:15.24), Braezden Mecham (105th, 17:30.10), Paul Baxter (110th, 17:39.24), Aidan Conrad (112th, 17:43.33) and Jamar McDowell (116th, 17:58.38). rounded out the boys’ varsity contingent.
“Derek Parks ran a personal best,” Conrad said. “Hyrum Baxter finally broke 17 minutes, a mark he’s been chasing for the last two years, since his sophomore year. Gideon Stahl was under 18 minutes for the very first time – he ran an 18:01 last week at Wyoming Indian, and ran a 17:15 this week, which was amazing. Paul Baxter struggled a bit – he was coming off being sick – but he still ran a very fast mid-17 minute time. Braezden Mecham broke 18 minutes for the first time ever, as did Aidan Conrad and Jamar McDowell. We had seven boys that were all under 18 minutes in a 5K, which is awesome to see – I don’t think we’ve ever seen that.”
Conrad was pleased with his younger runners, as well, two of whom have made tremendous strides since the beginning of the season.
“One of our biggest drops on the day was Owen Russell [23:34.73] – he improved his personal best by over 2.5 minutes,” Conrad said. “Brigham Johnson [34:19.23] – he was also another runner who improved his time by 2.5 minutes. From top to bottom, we were seeing some really great performances from our kids.”
For the girls, Jocelyn Capener finished 41st, with a time of 20:08.15. Jasmine Tapia finished 61st, with a time of 20:24.27, while Aubrey Horrocks was 80th, with a time of 20:56.99. Eliza Day (85th, 21:03.13) and Talia Conrad (118th,23:04.99) rounded out the Champions Division contingent.
“Jocelyn Capener almost broke 20 minutes, so she’s knocking on that door of running sub-20,” Conrad said. “That’s really moving. She was joined by Jasmine Tapia and Aubrey Horrocks, who both broke 21 minutes. Eliza Day ran a mid-21, while Talia Conrad continued to make progress overcoming some injuries, running a season-best 23-minute race.”
Lady Devil freshman Emma Lonsway started the Champions race, but was unable to finish, due to an unforeseen illness midway through the course.
“On the girls’ side, we had a little bit of a hiccup – Emma Lonsway wasn’t able to finish her race in the Champions Division with the varsity team,” Conrad said.
“She was pretty disappointed. On paper, it looks like the girls were trounced pretty good – I think they ended up 14th or 15th out of 16 or 17 teams. But every single girl ran a season best or a personal best.”
The EHS cross country teams host the Evanston Invitational Friday at Purple Sage Golf Course.