The Stansbury boys cross country team was already considered one of the best in Utah after winning its second Class 4A state championship in the past three years.
On Nov. 23, the Stallions, and one runner in particular, took that one step further, proving that they are among the best in the entire Southwest. At the Nike Cross Regionals in Casa Grande, Arizona, Class 4A state champion Carson Belnap finished second overall — seven-tenths of a second behind winner Cole Sprout of Colorado — and the Stallions were eighth out of 30 teams from Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah.
“(Belnap has) really moved up on people’s radar,” Stansbury cross-country coach Steve Allen said. “He’s a big surprise to most of them, but it’s not a surprise to us. We’ve always felt that he and our other boys have just been a phenomenal team this year, inspiring each other and pushing each other and taking things to the next level. It has been really cool to see.”
Sprout was the country’s fastest returning runner from a year ago, and Belnap was right on his heels with a second-place time of 14 minutes, 42.1 seconds. He was joined in the race by teammates Josh Oblad (29th, 15:28.8), Talmage Ricks (81st, 15:55.1), Nathan Leary (140th, 16:17.6), Jacob Simper (141st, 16:18.1), Tyler Seeley (152nd, 16:21.2) and Isaac Nelson (216th, 17:03.0). There were 248 runners in the championship race.
“At state, when you merged all of the teams from any classification, we took fifth overall,” Allen said. “We were really trying to get a top-10 finish, which would have been great for our team. We were going against all these top teams, a lot of them twice our size, including our own state. They had really high expectations and really trained hard for it and we ended up taking eighth overall. We were only about 10 points out of sixth place and 30 points out of fourth place — which the top four teams have a chance of going to Nike Nationals.”
The Stallions also competed in the boys’ and girls’ open medium school races. The boys finished fifth of 16 teams in their race, led by Jeremy Ruebush, who was eighth in 16:14.3. Other Stansbury competitors in the race included Noah Hales (37th, 16:39.0), Nathan Winters (46th, 16:47.0), Oliver Sill (67th, 17:05.3) and Trevor Jensen (84th, 17:15.3).
The girls team finished 12th, with Joelle Spilker (71st, 20:12.4) and Shelby Archer (74th, 20:17.0) leading the way. Elena Allen (118th, 20:58.2), Erin Allen (123rd, 20:59.5) and Brooke Call (129th, 21:03.0) rounded out the scoring for the Stallions. Other runners included Katelin Chipman (134th, 21:07.1), Olivia Packer (154th, 21:20.3), Julie Starr (172nd, 21:44.1), Tatelyn Larsen (196th, 22:09.9) and Marian Ogden (214th, 22:28.7).
“They’ve been working really hard the past few weeks since state’s been over,” Steve Allen said of the girls team. “They really improved a lot since state, so it was really good to see how well they did.”
The championship race for Nike Cross Nationals will take place Saturday at Glendoveer Golf Course in Portland, Oregon. A webcast of the event will be available at www.nikecrossnationals.com beginning at 10:30 a.m. Mountain time, with the boys race beginning at 11:05 a.m.