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Cross Country races to an exciting start

Article Date: 
6 September, 2013 (All day)

Last week the Morgan High School cross country team competed in two separate events. On Wednesday, Aug. 28, the Trojans embarked on the long trek to Roosevelt to compete against five other schools in a traditional 5K format. It became a race to the starting line for the Morgan athletes. The school bus had broken down in Summit County, causing significant delays for the team and potentially jeopardizing their ability to compete. Runners from the other schools had been warming up on the course and were gathered at the starting line ready to race.
Finally the Morgan bus pulled up and stopped in the middle of the street to let the team out as fast as possible. The boys raced first. Their only warm up consisted of a sprint to the restrooms before sprinting back to the starting line. Moments later the race was underway with all 99 runners dashing toward the finish line. Andrew Allen led the Morgan boys with a time of 18:39, placing eighth overall and winning a medal. Rounding out the top three varsity runners were Cameron Gualco followed by Christian McClellan.
While the boys finished their race, the girls warmed up with a field of 55 runners. The Roosevelt City Golf Course served as the venue for these races and the runners ran through deep, rough terrain and fairways alike. Candace Gunn finished first for the varsity girls, clocking a time of 22:41. The other top three finishers for the Morgan girls were Nikki Wilson and Andrea Millburn. Overall, Uintah High School won the event for both boys and girls. Other schools competing included Union, Altamont, Juan Diego, and Duchesne.
The second event of the week for the Trojan Cross Country team took place on Saturday, Aug. 31 at American Fork High School. This race took on the unusual format of having a two-mile distance as well as a relay component—hence its name, the American Fork Grass Relays. 
Coach Brennen Fuller sees events like these as essential in building the cross country program and helping the team achieve the great potential he sees individually in its members, and collectively as a team. Eventually, he would like to host an event like this in Morgan to help boost the program.
Only the varsity teams raced in the relay format. All other runners competed individually by age group. The freshman and sophomore girls kicked off the event with Megan Carter finishing first for Morgan. Next up, the freshman and sophomore boys raced with Colin Smith leading the field for Morgan. In the junior and senior races, McKayla Jones was first for Morgan among the girls and Bryan Smith led the boys.
The culminating races for this event were the varsity relays. Morgan had the opportunity to race against some of the most elite runners in the state across 3A, 4A, and 5A divisions. Representatives from 34 school competed. 
The girls relay began first with each runner carrying the baton for the full two miles before passing it on to the next runner. Each team consisted of five athletes, making the total race a 10-mile pursuit. Leading off for Morgan was Andrea Millburn, followed by Megan Bartol, then Nikki Wilson, Sharlene Gunn, and finally Candace Gunn as anchor for the team. The girls ran hard and gained valuable experience to prepare them for the remainder of the cross country season.
By the time the gun went off for the boys’ relay, temperatures were climbing above 90 degrees and the cloud cover had broken. Leading off for the boys was Cameron Gualco, who showed courage, grit and determination to run through a painful knee injury and still contribute to the team race. 
A strong freshman contingency filled the next three slots with Trendon Wilkerson passing the baton to Payton Bailey, who then handed off to Christian McClellan. Carrying the baton last for Morgan was Andrew Allen, whose two-mile split was clocked at a blistering pace of 11:26. Andrew’s time led all other Morgan runners and was the perfect choice for anchor of the boys’ team.
The next race on the schedule for Morgan is tonight, Sept. 6 at 4 p.m. in Murray. Good luck Trojan cross country—run your hearts out!