Grand County High School junior Kylah Ricks won her second consecutive state 3A individual cross country championship, beating the entire field by more than 90 seconds. Senior Evan Ellison was less than three seconds from a title in the boys race, taking second place at the UHSAA Utah State Cross Country Championships on Oct. 23 at Sugarhouse Park in Salt Lake City.

Ricks’ title-winning time was 18:50.2, which was 1:30.7 ahead of the second place finishing time. Senior Jessie Anderson finished 24th at 21:52.7, and sophomore Bella Welch finished 32nd at 22:30.9. Morgan easily won the team title at 37 points, while second-place Union had 93.

“She’s an amazing runner,” GCHS cross country coach Randy Martin said of Ricks. “We’re excited for her to be a back-to-back champion. Knowing her, she was out on the track the next day getting ready for track season.”

In the boys race, Ellison ran side-by-side with eventual-winner Porter Whitworth of Grantsville for most of the three miles, eventually falling 2.3 seconds behind with a second-place 15:46.0. Ellison’s Region 12 title-winning time 15:43.7 from the week before is the GCHS school record.

“It was a really exciting race,” Martin said. “The coaches put together a race plan and he executed it to perfection. It was just a great, great race.”

Fellow senior Malachi Ricks finished 15th at 16:51.0, and sophomore Arthur Hawks finished 17th at 16:57.2. Three of the top four teams in 3A were from Region 12 as Carbon took first at 57 points, Richfield took second at 90 points and Emery took fourth at 115 points.

“Our region is so talented,” Martin said. “If we could have qualified our whole team for state, we would have projected at fifth overall. The competition is getting so much better throughout the state.”

Even though the high school season is over, three GCHS boys and three GCHS girls are slated to run at the Nike Regionals in Casa Grande, Arizona, on Saturday, Nov. 23: boys Ellison, Malachi Ricks and freshman Tyler Stash; and girls Kylah Ricks, Welch and Alexa Stripeika.

GCHS junior defends state title in dominating fashion; Ellison takes second in boys race