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Midvale Journal

Never too early to think about next year for Hillcrest cross country

Nov 29, 2018 02:41PM ● By Travis Barton

Hillcrest High cross country team finished the season well, with the boys taking first at region and then seventh at state. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Travis Barton | travis@mycityjournals.com

For a cross country team that dominated its region and finished seventh at state, the 2018 season for the Hillcrest High boys may only be an appetizer to the main course to come in 2019. 

The Hillcrest High boys cross country team ran past (literally) the rest of the field in Region 2 to claim its second consecutive region championship with almost a perfect score. The Huskies top five runners finished in the top six. 

“We were expecting it, but we were happy with it,” said Senior Zac Hastings of the quasi region sweep.  

Hastings and the rest of the Husky runners followed up their region success with a seventh-place finish at the 6A state championships at Sugar House Park in Salt Lake City on Oct. 17. 

“It was about as good as we could've expected,” said head coach Scott Stucki. He was confident they could beat out their closest competition for that spot in Copper Hills and Westlake, who finished eighth and ninth respectively. 

Hastings finished 16th with a time of 16:04:8 on the three-mile course over hilly Sugar House Park. Though he didn’t break the 16-minute mark, his personal goal, he did finish with the third fastest time in Hillcrest history on that course. 

“Yeah, it's a challenging course but it's really fun,” he said. “The two hills at the beginning are just brutal, then you kind of have to survive the rest of the race.” 

The two biggest hills on the course happen within the first mile. “A lot of kids make the mistake of going out too hard and then use it all on first mile and then you're done,” Stucki said. 

The girls team finished 2018 second in region and 13th at state, but finishing ahead of a markedly improved Kearns team, who took the region title away from them. 

“Only had one goal at state and that was to beat Kearns—and we did—so that made me happy,” Stucki said. 

For Hastings, a four-year cross country runner and three-year track member, he saw personal improvements over the closing weeks of the year, made all the more impressive considering he missed a month of summer training with an injury to his IT band. This spring will be his final time running in a Husky uniform with the track team before going on to college, where he plans to continue running. 

Though he won’t be running for Hillcrest in 2019, next year’s expectations are rising a little bit higher than this year’s seventh-place finish. The Huskies graduate only four seniors from this year’s squad (two boys, two girls). And, with a strong junior class and sophomore Anthony Davies returning, Stucki feels a trophy is within reach for the boys.

“We'll have our sights a little higher,” Stucki said. “The ultimate goal for next year is to be in the mix for one of the trophies. The top two teams get trophies. We'll have to have a really good summer and some more growth with some of the kids, but with a senior-laden group, if we're gonna get a trophy it's going to be next year.” 

The girls team could come down to dedication and the next freshman class. 

“I have a group of girls that are more talented than they realize,” Stucki said, adding that if “you get a good strong group of freshmen, you can go from an also-rans to region champs.”

Preparation for the 2019 season starts next summer, where Stucki said it comes down to getting the miles in. 

Varsity guys need to average up to 50 miles a week while girls need to be above 40, preferably around 43-45, said Stucki. He tracks 11 weeks in the summer, hoping for the boys to reach 550 miles and 480 for the girls.

“The more kids you have hit those goals,” he said, “the better off you are.”