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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Brighton cross country has sights set on state tournament

Sep 07, 2018 01:20PM ● By Jana Klopsch

With a blend of returning athletes and talented newcomers, the Brighton cross-country team could be a force in region meets this season. (Photo courtesy of Angie Welder.)

By Josh McFadden | [email protected]                

Every team wants the experience of playing for a state championship, so falling just short of the state tournament can motivate athletes to come back stronger the next season.                 

This is exactly how Brighton High School cross-country athletes feel.                 

The Bengals were on the outside looking in during last season’s state meet. But with some returning talent and an influx of new runners, head coach Angie Welder is confident her squad can compete against the top runners and team in Class 5A.                 

“I fully expect that our entire varsity team will qualify for the state championship this year,” Welder said. “We were only a few points off qualifying as a team last year, and this year we have a lot of new athletes that bring a lot of experience and talent to the team as a whole.”                 

Welder said Paige Sieverts and freshman Caroline Rupper will headline the girls. She likes their competitiveness and desire to push their own limits. Sieverts competed individually at state last season. As for the boys, Welder expects big things out of senior Declan Gleason and James Fetzer. She said these boys are “two of the strongest, quickest and hardest-working athletes on the team. They are great examples to the younger athletes.”                 

Even though Welder believes her athletes are good enough to vie for a region title and get to the state meet, she’s more concerned that everyone puts forth his or her best effort.                 

“I have high expectations for a successful season this year,” she said. “I look forward to our meets and believe we can compete on a level equal to every school in our region. That said, I don’t define a successful season based only on whether we qualify for the state championship, although that certainly is a goal. I also believe that a successful season is one where each athlete competes at the very best of their ability and develops the confidence to push their limits and achieve their goals, all while supporting every other athlete on our team.”                 

In order to enjoy success, Welder said the team needs to stay healthy and run consistently throughout the year. The Bengals push themselves in practice but also know when to take time to rest and heal. Welder emphasizes proper stretching and other injury-prevention techniques.         

In a sport that requires stamina, endurance and determination, Welder is impressed with the boys’ and girls’ attitudes and mindset, even under difficult conditions.                 

“Our biggest strength as a team is our work ethic,” she said. “Our athletes are not afraid to get out of their comfort zone and work hard. We started afternoon practices two weeks before school started to get the athletes acclimated to running in the heat of the day. When it’s 90 degrees outside and you have kids excited to get out and put in the miles, it makes my job a whole lot easier. Whatever the challenge, they meet it and never complain.”                 

One thing that will help Brighton compete in its meets this season is sheer numbers. There are more than 100 runners on the squad, nearly twice as many as were in the program a few years ago. As numbers increase, so does talent and ability.                 

“We’ve got some freshmen and sophomore boys and girls on our team that have the potential to be varsity runners this year and make a huge contribution to our program,” Welder said.                

The Bengals opened the season Aug. 17 at the Highland Invitational at Sugar House Park. The team will compete at the Pre-Region Meet at Kiwanas Park in Provo on Friday, Aug. 31.