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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Brighton cross-country athletes show their stuff in region tournament

Nov 18, 2019 01:13PM ● By Josh McFadden

Brighton’s Cara Rupper finishes her race at the Region 6 cross-country meet in first place. (Photo courtesy of Justin Pitcher)

By Josh McFadden | [email protected]

The cross-country season began with summer conditioning in the blistering heat and now ends amid cool temperatures and even the threat of snow. Through it all, the Brighton squad has turned out some impressive performances. 

The Bengals finished second in Region 6 on the girls side, while the boys placed fourth at the region tournament, held at the beginning of October. The Class 5A state meet is set for Oct. 23 at Sugar House Park.

At the region tournament, sophomore Cara Rupper won the girls varsity race with a time of 18:23. Joceyln Summers and Lia Belle also placed in the top 14 and made the All-Region First and Second teams, respectively. For the boys, sophomore Adam Kohlmann finished sixth with a time of 15:45. His efforts landed him a spot on the All-Region First Team. Teammate Josh Behunin made Second-Team All-Region by placing 14th at the tournament with a time of 16:13. 

The junior varsity squad got into the action, too, with Harrison Steen coming in first in that division with a time of 16:49. For the girls JV team, freshman Olivia Christensen was runner-up. Her time of 20:43 was just .01 seconds behind the winner.

“I’m proud of how our team finished at region,” said head coach Angie Welder. “We had several individual outstanding accomplishments. Our team performed exceptionally well this season. Race times improved with every meet, and the runners were excited about getting out there week after week to race hard. Building confidence and mental toughness is a huge part of running success, and it was exciting to watch each of them begin to really believe that they could not only race well but continue to improve and be a competitive threat in our region.”

Both the girls and boys teams qualified for the 5A meet, sending a total of 14 athletes to the culminating event. “These kids have learned to really believe in their abilities and confidently go out and give it their all on race day,” Welder said. 

At state, the girls finished 11th with Summers taking 34th overall and a time of 19:49, while Rupper took 36th with a time of 19:51. On the boys side, Kohlmann led the team with a 16:39 finish. 

Welder is pleased with the progress her athletes have made and how far the program has come. She said it has “been a few years” since Brighton has qualified a full team for state.

“To watch our team confidently race their best, push hard and secure a state spot was a huge accomplishment. Watching our individuals win and place in the All-Region team was just icing on the cake. Watching [Rupper] and [Steen] win their individual races was truly an awesome moment. We have an extremely talented group of athletes, many of which are underclassmen, and it’s exciting to watch them toe the line and compete successfully with many other more experienced junior and senior athletes.”

Welder said everybody on the team has worked hard and pushed themselves to the limit to learn the necessary skills and tactics to become better runners. 

“Day in and day out, they showed up to practice, did exactly what was asked of them and then responded with outstanding race performances,” she said. “There is nothing better than seeing the look on a runner’s face as they cross the finish line knowing that they gave it their all, met their goals and accomplished something they never thought possible earlier in the season.”