The race was run on a 3.1-mile (5k) course that mostly follows along the outside of the front nine holes at the Moab Golf Club,” said GCHS coach Randy Martin. The race course features challenging hills, including the infamous “gut-check” hill between holes four and five.
Joining the Red Devils at the invitational were distance runners from Emery, Green River, Juan Diego, Monticello, Monument Valley, Pinnacle Canyon Academy, San Juan, South Sevier and Whitehorse high schools.
GCHS senior Mercedes James led the way for the Lady Devil distance runners with a time of 20:17. James finished in first place overall out of a field of 60 runners. James, a three-time state cross country finalist, ran her best race of the year according to Martin.
“Mercedes had finished second behind Erin Hurst from Emery in two previous meets this year, so she really wanted to win this one in her last home meet of her career,” Martin said. “The two girls’ sprinted side by side the last 300 yards before Mercedes got a half-step ahead of [Hurst] at the finish line to win in a true photo-finish.”
He lauded James for kicking in to high gear near the end of the race.
“It took a lot of courage and guts for Mercedes to go into a dead sprint in the last 300 yards of a [more than] three-mile race and catch and pass Erin to win,” Martin said.
GCHS feshman Jayelen Knowles finished in seventh place with a time of 23:04; Alexis Pierce who finished in 20th place with a time of 24:51; sophomore Annie Heywood finished in 21st place with a time of 25:07; sophomore Lauren Drake finished in 32nd place with a time of 26:35; and senior Miranda Shumway who crossed the finish line with a time of 27:07.
“Our girls ran outstanding at the meet,” Martin said. “When they made their first turn and fought their way through the 50 mile-per-hour head-wind you could see they were all giving everything they had.”
The Red Devil boys’ team was led by senior Jackson Knowles, who finished in fourth place out of 103 runners with a time of 17:46. GCHS senior Treyton Helquist finished in eighth place with a time of 18:16 and junior Andrew Hugentobler finished in 10th place with a time of 18:23.
“Andrew has been running great all season, but this was his best race of the year,” Martin said. “He gets faster and faster each week, which is not surprising as he is one of the hardest workers on the team.”
Rounding out the top seven for the Red Devil boys were freshman Cameron Wakefield, who finished in 27th place with a time of 19:52; senior Adam Jenkinson who finished in 34th place with a time of 20:16; freshman Alan Snow who finished with a time of 20:31; and senior Jordan Bryant, running his best race of the year, according to Martin, finishing in 51st place with a time of 21:28.
Also competing for the Red Devils boys were senior Skyler Johnson, who finished with a time of 21:35; freshman Mackay Wakefield, who finished with a time of 21:42; sophomore Cody Jones, who finished with a time of 21:45; junior Mason Tranter, who finished with a time of 21:45; senior Reyce Knutson, who finished with a time of 22:32; freshman Aaron Hawks, who finished with a time of 22:47 and freshman Tyrese Stash, who finished with a time of 27:07.
“Every one of our boys’ team members ran their best races of the year,” Martin said. “Though they may have had better times at other meets, when you look at the level of difficulty that this course presents to runners and the fact that this course is a full 5k, our boys all ran outstanding races.”
Grand’s long distance runners have no competitions this week as they prepare to meet San Juan High School at the John Thornton Invitational in Blanding on Wednesday, Oct. 9.
“It will be great having a full week of practice to train and condition for the meet in Blanding,” Martin said. “San Juan High School has an outstanding cross country team, and if we are going to meet our goal of winning a region championship we are going to have to beat San Juan. We still have a lot of miles to put behind us before we can hope to achieve our goal.”