Bunker Power. Adam Bunker led the Buckaroo boys cross country team to an excellent third place finish, just three points out of second place, on October 19 at the Utah High School championships in Salt Lake City.
Bunker, a sophomore running in the 1A XC state meet for the first time, finished in fifth place, covering the labyrinthian course in 17:34. Panguitch’s Jonah Schoppe finished first, in 16:39 to lead his team to the state title for the second year in a row.
Ryan Bird was the second Buckaroo to reach the finish line, finishing 17th, followed immediately by teammates Lucas Hatch and Dylan Bird in 18 and 19th places.
Justus Robison completed the Buckaroo scoring with a 26th place finish in the 74-runner 1A race. Zac Musselman (30) and Hyrum Johnson (32) completed the Buckaroo effort.
The Bucks totaled 76 points in the race, only three behind Parowan’s 73 as the top three teams repeated their placing from 2015. Panguitch won the title easily with 36 points.
It was all Harris Power for the Lady Buckaroos as Kendall Harris ended her stellar Buckaroo XC running career with an eighth place finish in the girls 1A race.
Running as an individual, Harris cruised the course in a career best 21:19, 1:10 behind winner, Bailey Wall of Tintic, but only 16 seconds behind second place Taylia Norris of Panguitch.
In the team competition, Parowan won for the second year in a row with Panguitch a close second.
After finishing eight, 15th, and 18th the past three years at the state meet, Harris powered her way up to fifth, with a time that bettered her 2015 time by 97 seconds. Previously, her 22:10 as a freshman was her best time.
Girls head coach Kasey Harris cheered, “I’m extremely proud of [Kendall]. She worked hard all season, putting in hard miles, and she became a mentally tough runner.
“She ran the race exactly how I asked her to, getting out fast and using the hills. She gave it all she had. That’s all you can ask for.”
Kasey Harris, also Kendall’s mom, adds, “It truly has been a blessing to coach my daughter. I’m sad this was her last year.”
The Buckaroo gals will be looking to youth next year as well, with Harris graduating and only two or three underclassmen returning.
But the future is bright for the Buckaroo gals with a horde of junior high runners doing well.
Eighth graders Sera St. Clair, Whitney Knudsen, and Kennedy Brewer are poised to help the Monticello gals, winners of 12 state XC championships, back to the state meet for the first time since 2013 and hopefully to the very top of the stand.
“I’m way excited for next season with all the girls,” Harris expressed. “I love them all.”
Boys coach Jeff Hunt was pleased with the Buckaroo effort. “We had a good day,” he noted with a young team boasting no seniors.
The Bucks began the season hoping to be in the mix, and they certainly were. Earlier, Hunt suggested that at least a one minute improvement in state times would put them right there.
Ryan Bird, who finished 17th in 18:31 improved on last years time of 19:16. Lucas Hatch, 18th this year in 18:32, covered the course in 19:21 in 2015. And Zac Musselman improved from 20:07 in 2015 to 19:21 this year. Justus Robison and Hyrum Johnson, both freshman, were both under 19:30 this year.
All will be back for next year, and with the addition of Alan Pettit, who won every Junior High race he entered this year, the Bucks could find their way back to the state crown.
Next year, the Bucks will most likely be competing in 2A ranks. Five of the Buckaroo’s 12 girls state XC titles came when Monticello competed in the 2A ranks from 1993 to 2004.
The girls won 2A championships in ’93, ’94, and ’95, plus 1999 and 2000. The girls haven’t won a state championship in XC since 2000.
Monticello boys XC, owners of nine state titles, won two titles during the Buckaroo’s previous 2A years, in 1996 and 2000, the year both the boys and the girls won titles.