Grand County High School senior Evan Ellison won the boys race and junior Kylah Ricks won the girls race at the Region 12 Cross Country Championships at the Carbon Country Club on Tuesday, Oct. 15, leading a group of six Red Devil state meet qualifiers.

Ellison crossed the finish line first in the boys’ race at 15:43.7, edging out Richfield’s Hayden Harward (15:49.0) and Emery’s Bryar Meccariello (15:54.5). Ricks repeated as Region 12 champion in the girls’ race, clocking in at 18:25.9, more than two minutes ahead of second-place Nora Foster of Richfield (20:44.3).

“I’ve had the pleasure of coaching Evan for seven years,” GCHS cross country coach Randy Martin said. “For him to have the senior season he’s had … to cap it off with a region championship – I couldn’t be more proud. He’s worked so hard, to be able to compete for championships is exciting for him.”

Both the boys and girls cross country teams finished fourth in the team standings, falling short of state qualification. Six GCHS runners, including Ellison and Ricks, however, qualified as individuals. Senior Malachi Ricks (4th, 16:01.7) and sophomore Arthur Hawks (16th, 17:18.4) qualified among the boys; and senior Jessie Anderson (7th, 21:21.7) and sophomore Bella Welch (8th, 21:34.1) also qualified for the girls.

“Bella ran a whale of a race,” Martin said. “We were hoping to get her in the top 10 to qualify her for state and she took 8th. She had a season-best by 63 seconds.”

Richfield won the girls’ title with 59 points, while Carbon had 66, Emery had 67 and GCHS had 77. For the boys, Carbon won the title with 43 points, with Richfield in second at 48, Emery in third at 65 and GCHS in fourth at 81.

“Our lack of depth finally caught up to us,” Martin said. “We brought 15 runners to a meet where the other teams had 50-60 runners.”

Martin said that despite not qualifying for state, the GCHS runners ran a race to be proud of.

“I’m proud of our runners,” he said. “I stressed to them how important the region race was, and out of 15 runners, 10 of them had season-bests at the meet. It was no fault to our runners. They ran their hearts out.”

Other GCHS boys runners included senior Patrick Johnson (33rd, 18:51.5); senior Jonathan Martineau (37th, 19:01.5); senior Soren Indergard (44th, 19:14.9); sophomore Daniel Thayer (60th, 20:28.3); and freshman Tyler Stash (20:44.2). Other GCHS girls runners included sophomore Lorena Johnson (26th, 23:55.3); senior Rachel Thompson (41st, 25:25.7); and sophomore Alexa Stripeika (42nd, 25:34.2).

Junior Anika Scherer was slated to compete, but suffered a badly strained calf in a club soccer match a few days before the meet, Martin said.

“We’re heartbroken for Anika and she’s heartbroken herself,” Martin said. “She trained for this race and prepared for this race. She really wanted to run it.”

The state championship meet was scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 23, at Sugarhouse Park in Salt Lake City.

“Evan, Kylah and Malachi are going to be right up there near the front at state,” Martin said. “ Kylah’s the defending champion and she wants to repeat. I’ve sat down with Evan and mapped out a race that would win the title. It’s going to be an exciting race.”

GCHS cross country teams each finish fourth

“I’m proud of our runners.”

– Randy Martin, GCHS cross country coach