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Midvale Journal

Volleyball, cross country, football seasons come to close for Hillcrest student-athletes

Dec 06, 2021 02:57PM ● By Julie Slama

Hillcrest High volleyball senior Kennedi Sullivan sets up the ball for the Huskies. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

On Nov.  2, Hillcrest High wrapped up its fall sports in the Utah High School Activities Association, with the volleyball team falling to Timpanogos High after winning 3-0 in its playoff berth against Cottonwood High the previous day.

“The Cottonwood game was a great game, one of the best serving and passing ones all season,” head volleyball coach Melissa Guymon said. “Our fans were there, and it made a lot of difference. We realized how much of an impact they had after playing during COVID-19 last year.”

The team finished with a 7-22 record, an improvement over three wins last year, and will lose three seniors: Makena Lelepali, a “smart defensive player who is vocal on the net;” Kennedi Sullivan, “an awesome, smart level-headed leader;” and Elizabeth Lindquist, “a tough player who always has a positive presence on the court.”

Next year, the team will look to team captain junior Franny Gazani Bazan, who led the state in early October with the most digs; co-captain junior Emma Walters, a “consistent setter and leader” for the team; and freshman Ana Moleni, “a hard-working player with a lot of potential.” Guymon also looks to freshman Mia Larsen to continue developing into a second strong setter.

“I’m really proud of these kids,” she said. “They pushed themselves to grow; they didn’t just hit the ball around.”

Cross country’s final UHSAA meets were both state and the new JV championships.

“We kept the boys’ team streak alive; it’s now 15 in a row” to qualify to run at the state meet, head cross country coach Scott Stucki said.

The boys were led by junior Sam Timmerman, who dropped more than 30 seconds to finish 32nd with “a big PR (personal record),” Stucki said. “In fact, five of our seven boys had their PRs and the others ran tough, although they were injured or sick.” 

In addition, three girls competed at state, with senior Erin Atkinson and sophomore Anna Ames running their best times, and sophomore Claire Hastings running a fast time despite injury, he said.

Those were three who qualified individually at the divisional meet, but the girls’ team did not place well enough to run at state. Still, Stucki was pleased with the hard work put in by other runners, including varsity runners senior Emily Swain and sophomore Edith Neslen.

He also said the first-time JV championship went well and several runners had good times on the “fast course.”

“We’re trying to figure out why we haven’t held that meet before,” Stucki said, adding that it was a good opportunity for the varsity runners to support the JV student-athletes.

Community support has been appreciated of this year’s football team as they went 1-9 this year, said head coach Brock Bryant.

“We’re very young; we started six freshmen and five sophomores, so they’re inexperienced and they will learn from this experience and stay in the program, which is something the Huskies haven’t seen for a while,” Bryant said. “By the time, they’re juniors and seniors, we’re going to be pretty good.”

He has appreciated the hard work students have put into their season.

“They play hard every week. They understand the process. I see them every Monday; I didn’t have one kid missing practice. They all have their jerseys tucked in, ready to go, so they see the vision,” he said, unlike when he has coached other teams who didn’t show up to practices during a losing season.

Bryant said their hard work extends to the classroom.

“This past term, we averaged a 3.19 GPA, and I was told by an administrator, that was probably the highest GPA that the football team has ever had,” he said.

With losing 15 seniors on the team, Bryant said other players already are stepping up, practicing skills on their own, and in June, the team plans to attend the Southern Idaho Football Camp.