The Stansbury boys cross-country team may have had an off day during the Region 11 meet a week earlier, but the Stallions were certainly on their game at Wednesday’s Class 4A state championship meet at Sugarhouse Park in Salt Lake City.
They have the trophy to prove it, too.
Stansbury won its first state championship in any boys team sport, as the Stallions held off stiff challenges from Pine View, Desert Hills and Ogden to claim the Class 4A title.
“It was anybody’s race, so we were just excited we came out the way we did,” Stansbury coach Randy Quarez said. “When I saw the gap at the finish line, I thought, ‘we’ve got a shot at this.’ Fortunately, we came out on top when five teams could have come away with the state title.”
A week earlier, the Stallions were left disappointed when they lost the Region 11 title by four points to Ogden. However, they remained upbeat, knowing the bigger prize was still within their grasp.
“Our focus was to concentrate on our gap from one to five and to focus on the positive things — the work we’ve done, to trust it and just to just go out and give it everything we had, no matter what the end result was,” Quarez said. “Lay it on on the line, have fun and see where it takes us, basically. That was our strategy, honestly. We said, ‘guys, the work’s been done — trust it. Believe in yourselves and believe in the work, and good things are going to happen.’”
All five of Stansbury’s scoring runners finished within 17.6 seconds of each other, enabling the Stallions to edge Pine View by nine points for the title. Josh Oblad led the way with a 12th-place finish, clocking in at 16 minutes, 6.3 seconds. Dylan Bryant was 16th in 16:10.9, with Scott Ruebush 17th in 16:13.2. Richard Beazer (22nd, 16:21.5) and Josh Wintch (23rd, 16:23.9) rounded out the scoring, giving the Stallions 80 points.
“They ran great,” Quarez said. “It’s not about the individual — it’s about winning as a team. It’s just a matter of focusing on your teammates and the gap. Some guys had a great race, some guys had a good race and some guys had a fair race, but combined, they had an amazing race.”
Blaise Miller finished 39th in 16:40.2 for the Stallions, and Nathan Winters was 54th in 17:04.4.
Immediately after the race, Stansbury has a feeling it had won, but chose to keep its celebration relatively restrained until the Stallions’ victory had been made official. But once they knew for sure, the celebration was on.
“Every year, the rigor of the workouts has increased,” Quarez said. “All these guys who were seniors this year, mixed in with the sophomores and the other kids on the team, the focus was that we wanted to make something special happen. Every year, we’ve been working toward is, and this has been a goal of theirs. Everything’s been intensified, and we’ve seen the younger runners progress because of it.”
Lehi’s Ryan Raff won the 4A individual title in 14:59.6. Hurricane’s Caleb Armstrong was second in 15:27.3 and Ogden’s Christian Warren was third in 15:43.5. Tooele’s James Miles finished 109th in 18:05.6.
Following the season, Quarez was named the state’s Boys Cross Country Coach of the Year, an honor he was thrilled to share with longtime colleagues Steve Allen and Gary Lund, who worked with him to build the Stansbury program from the ground up when the school opened in 2009.
“It’s an honor, but at the same time, it’s humbling,” Quarez said. “There’s a lot of coaches around the state who are just as deserving or more deserving (of the award). All the other coaches I’m friends with have been very complimentary when they’ve found out. Their comments have been, ‘it’s well-deserved,’ and it’s nice to get those comments from your peers.
“We’re proud of the kids — they’re the ones that ran the race and we give them the accolades,” he added. “We are there behind them, pushing them and encouraging them. They’re the ones that won state — we get to ride along on their coattails and say we were a part of it. They’re the ones who actually did the work.”