by Scott Boyle
Tyler Bird is your 1A Utah High School State Cross Country Champion!
The Bucks fell short in their bid for five straight team championships, taking third in the annual race at Sugar House Park, but Bird kept the hardware coming the Buckaroo’s way with a 26 second victory over Telos Academy’s Justin Levine.
Bird covered the treelined course in a Monticello High School record time of the 16:32. Monticello’s Eli Johnson powered through the course in 17:34 to come in seventh place, giving the Bucks two top ten runners.
Ryan Bird (19:16), Lucas Hatch (19:21) and Jared Crowley (19:57) placed 24th, 26th, and 32nd to get the Buckaroos in third place, behind team champion Panguitch and second place Parowan.
Bird and the Buckaroos went into the race not knowing a whole lot about their competition, having not competed against Panguitch or Parowan for most of the year and had never seen Telos Academy’s Levine.
“I just wanted to get out front early,” Bird explained. “and control it the whole way.” That he certainly did, heading to the front at the beginning and then powered up the first significant hill at the one mile mark to put some space between him and the other runners, running alone all the way to the finish line.
Bird becomes the third Buckaroo to win an individual state cross country championship.
Jordan Jensen won a 2A individual title for the Buckaroos in 1996, while Easton Nielson triumphed for the Buckaroos 2013 state championship 1A team. Bird bested Nielson’s Buckaroo record by 10 seconds.
No Buckaroo boys have won two state individual titles, but two girls did, Macie (Nielson) Black in 2007 and 2010 and Kasey (Shiew) Harris in 1985-86.
Bronco’s Tara Laws (1987-88) and Bryan Mose (1992-93) own two individual titles for San Juan High School.
Bird, named last week a Mountain Star Healthcare Star Athlete of the Week, finishes a fine four year cross country career with three state championship team rings, an individual trophy and other individual finishes of second in 2014 in 16:52, tenth his sophomore year in 17:42 and 14th his freshman year in 18:01.
Bird feels the Bucks will be “upcoming” next year. “They’ll be good,” he predicts.
Johnson, also a senior, placed 23rd on last year’s state title team in 18:35, and 15th his sophomore year. He finished in 18:12 to run his last race for the good ole Orange and Black. Both Bird and Johnson will suit up for the Buckaroo basketball team starting next month.
Running as individuals as the girl’s team didn’t qualify for the state championships, junior Kendall Harris finished 18th while sophomore Aunika Hunter was 29th.
Parowan girls stopped Panguitch girls quest for five team titles in a row in 1A girls, although Whittni Orton of Panguitch won her fourth individual title, a feat that has only happened twice before.
Here we go. The Lady Bucks enter the 1A State Volleyball Championships with their first place ranking intact, a 19-4 record, and on 14 match winning streak after closing out Pinnacle and Green River last week in straight games.
The Buckaroo volleyball team has only dropped two games in that 14 game streak, sweeping 12 of those contests 3-0.
The Bucks have their work cut out for them at the state tournament, however, with second ranked Panguitch (15-7) and third ranked Rich (20-5) always tough at tournament time, though both Panguitch and Rich are in the opposite bracket from the Bucks.
Monticello has first round action against either Dugway (6-7) or Piute (9-13). Other tough teams in the Buckaroo’s bracket are Duchesne, ranked third at 18-3, Milford, fourth at 15-3 and unranked Intermountain Christian with a shining 30-2 record on the season. Go Bucks, bring home the gold trophy!
The Bucks lost a tough 14-0 decision to the Kanab Cowboys on Friday. Kanab is always a tough place to play.
The Cowboys started fast, scoring two touchdowns in the first quarter, before the Buckaroo defense clamped down and held the Cowboys scoreless the rest of the game.
The Buckaroo offense had their chances, but a penalty nullified a touchdown in the third quarter and a couple more trips inside the red zone without scoring kept the Bucks scoreless on the night.
The Bucks travel to Rich High School on Friday for a quarterfinal matchup against the Rebels, who are 4-5 on the year.
The Bucks dropped a loss in Randolph to the Rebels in September, 24-0, but were missing several starters with injuries in that game, including main running back, Thomas Anderson, who went down in the second quarter.
Anderson is back, the Buckaroo defense is playing forcefully and look for this one to be the best first round game in 1A.