But Miners still look like team to beat in Region 3

Published: Sept. 26, 2007 12:19 a.m. MDT
There was a point this season when Bingham cross country coach Jeff Arbogast thought his boys team might have a real shot at capturing the Class 5A title. After some unexpected turbulence, that championship talk has been quelled.

Make no mistake about it, the Bingham boys are still the cream of the crop in Region 3, but at the state level Arbogast says the loss of team captain Logan Clark has stunned the Miners.

We had a real strong (and) deep team, but we've had some setbacks, Arbogast said. We've got some regrouping to do.

Clark had been a key member of the team and suddenly quit the program earlier this season. However, with fliers like Nate Jewkes and Jason Sara still running strong, the Miners should be able to win the region title but the 5A championship just got a whole lot tougher.

Copper Hills has come on of late, leaping over Riverton, West Jordan and Kearns. The Grizzlies were able to place three runners in the top 10 of last week's region meet at Kearns.

They have surprised me, said Arbogast. You know, if we're not careful, we'll go right from thinking we had a shot at state to losing the region.

Still, if you ask the Copper Hills coaches, they'll tell you that the Miners are head and shoulders above the rest of the league. The region championship should produce a tight finish between Riverton, Copper Hills, West Jordan and Kearns, but only three of these teams will advance to the state meet.

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(Hunter's program continues to falter, as only a few runners are participating for the Wolverines.)

Bingham's girls have apparently rebounded from last year's third-place finish.

Making the jump to region favorite is all about team chemistry. Arbogast said the last couple of years, his girls teams has just been going through the motions. This year's team started quick and hasn't let up.

Led by Rebecca Barnes and McKenzie Moore, Bingham is the region favorite and could have a top five finish at state.

West Jordan is led by a trio of solid runners and will be dangerous at the region championship. Riverton and Copper Hills will qualify for state but only by default since both Kearns and Hunter are down and won't field competitive teams for the region title meet. With the end of the season on the horizon, here's the Region 3 cross country roundup:

BINGHAM: Nate Jewkes has yet to lose a region race this year. The senior set a new course record with a time of 15:45 at the Cottonwood Complex earlier this season. The old mark of 15:49 was set in 2003 by former Jordan runner, Jared Beinlien. Jason Sara and Sean Bullock are also having strong seasons for the Miners. Both runners have consistently finished in the top 10 at region practice meets this year. The team's depth will be tested as the unexpected departure of team captain Logan Clark could derail the Miners state title hopes.

It's been a rebound year for the Bingham girls. The team came together over the summer during their high altitude camps. Rebecca Barnes, Sara Copeland, McKenzie Moore and Danika Antczak make up the team's top runners. Expect Bingham's girls to take the region title and challenge the top teams at state.

WEST JORDAN: The Jaguars have some speed demons in Jeff Walker and Chris Barney. West Jordan is on the bubble and it may come down to a battle with Kearns and Riverton to determine the region's final state-qualifying spot. Randy Carsey and Corey Dahle round out the team's other top runners, but it's clear that the Jags are still hunting for more depth.

The girls team has a superior group of runners in Anna Willis, Katie Buttars and Emily Hills. This group is as tough as they come, they're a big reason why West Jordan will challenge Bingham for the region title. The Jags should easily qualify for state but if they had a little more depth, they would be scary.

COPPER HILLS: Rebuilding on the fly isn't easy but that's exactly what coach Garth Rushforth is trying to do. The boys team has made strides in September. Led by John Coles, Ryan Summers, Bryce Woolsley and Emillio Zumudio, the Grizzlies have been the most improved team in the region. If things keep going their way, they'll have a great opportunity to reach the 5A championship meet. Rushforth's normally stout girls team isn't getting the athletes they used to, but they should still reach their goal of qualifying for state. Clarissa Rawlins and Marcelina Greyer are solid runners but the team lacks depth, especially after losing two athletes to graduation and one to a transfer. Megan Wood and Tiffany Garcia will help but it's a down year for Copper Hills girls.

KEARNS: After taking third place at last year's region championship, hopes were high for the Cougars this season. Top runners Josh Shrewsbury and Tanner Smedley returned but they haven't been able to put it all together, in large part, because life got in the way. Working late hours has zapped the strength of both runners and low numbers has hurt the team's ability to compete. Daniel Rodriguez and Brandon Mitchell are a big part of the Kearns effort, but with only 12 runners on the squad it's been a difficult and frustrating season.

The girls team has just two runners on the squad. Soccer and volleyball have been the sports of choice at Kearns.

RIVERTON: The largest school in the state has one of the best cross country runners in Trevor Sharp. The senior will have a showdown with Bingham's Jewkes in October. Andrew Markus, Garrett McMullen, Chris Brady and Chris Sanders are all close to cracking the region's upper echelon. Riverton has been up and down this season. After starting the season quick, the team appears to have tapered off a bit as the season winds down.

Alisa Sheffer is the girls top runner, but, like the boys team, there aren't many Riverton runners keeping pace with Sheffer. Jennica Carpenter, Kellie Wolfley, Kathy Oman and Dailee Perucci will keep the Silverwolves near the top in the season-ending meets. They'll likely battle West Jordan for second place at the region championship.

HUNTER: New coach John Peoples is trying to turn the culture around at Hunter High School, but he says it will take time. In fact, the coach lives just across the street from Bingham High School and he joked that it might be time for him to walk across the street and see how the Miners get things done. The Wolverines coach knows it will take hard work and patience to convince students at Hunter to get more involved with cross country. The boys have some good runners but not enough to be a contender. The main goal is to try and qualify individual runners for the state meet. Kenny Jackson, Avery Richardson, Josh Burton and Spencer Holliday are the key runners on the boys team. The girls team won't be a factor at the region championship as senior Kali Wall has been the program's lone bright spot.

E-mail: tpeterson@desnews.com