PROVO, UTAH – Evanston High School cross country coach Ryan Berger makes it a point to get the best out his athletes every day.
But on Saturday morning, before the Red Devils’ race at the BYU Autumn Classic at East Bay Valley Golf Course, Berger gave Dawson Crofts and Weston Wiley an added reminder to push themselves harder than they have all season.
“I put a challenge on them,” Berger said. “I told them to trust what we’ve been doing. And ‘let’s be fast today.’’’
They rose to the challenge.
Crofts, a sophomore, led Evanston with a 27th place finish out of 234 runners with a time of 15:38.3. Wiley, a junior, took 31st in 15:44.2 to help lead the Red Devils to a 20th-place finish out of 33 teams.
Bradshaw Haack was Evanston’s No. 3 runner at 132nd place, while sophomores Charles Winfield and Latham Chandler rounded out the top five runners for the Red Devils, who finished with 559 points.
“Everyone of our kids are setting personal records,” Berger said. “We’re running fast. I was impressed with all our kids today. We’re getting better.”
American Fork took home the crown on the boys’ side with 122 points. Timpview senior Aidan Troutner won the three-mile race in 14:19.
“We’ve had some really good performances,” Haack said during practice on Thursday. “It’s been looking good. I think we have some potential this season.”
While Berger is happy with how the Red Devils have progressed this season, he wants Evanston to be a state powerhouse down the road.
“I’m happy as a coach. Am I satisfied? I’m never satisfied,” Berger said. “I’ll stay that way until we hoist the first-place trophy.”
Only four Evanston girls ran the varsity race. North Summit senior Sadie Sargent won the individual title in 17:17.3. American Fork took first as a team with 99 points.
Junior Reghan Worley, who finished in 108th place out of 236 competitors with a time of 19.59.1, led the Lady Red Devils.
Two weeks ago, Worley finished 12th out of 489 competitors in her division, helping Evanston to a 12th-place finish out of 35 teams.
“Reghan still did a great job,” Berger said. “She’s steady. She’s right there.”
Senior Micah Harvey finished 139th in 20:34.9, while seniors Hadley Gebs (20:48.2) and Graycee Kennedy (21:03.9) rounded out the four varsity runners for the Evanston girls’ team.
“The team is improving,” Kennedy said during practice last week. “The younger girls keep learning and I think they are going to continue to do really well.”
Berger was quick to note the performance he got out of Heidi Barton in her first race of the year. The freshman took second in the freshman/sophomore competition in 19:23.5.
“I’m very proud of the kids,” Berger said. “I’m proud of what they’re doing in practice. I’m proud of the support they’re giving each other.”