by Walter & Becky Bird
Success in cross country is all about numbers. Unfortunately for the Monticello High School girls Cross country program, one big number has been lacking in recent teams – girl’s actually running.
This has been unusual for a program that boasts 12 overall state titles, the most recent coming in 2000. Coach Kasey Harris is doing her best to change that and things are looking up for the young Lady Bucks.
With senior Shania Begay leading the way, four sophomores (Madison Freestone, Makayla Sheeran, Jessica Stevens, Kaitlyn Morrison) and two ninth graders (Serra St. Clair, Kennedy Brewer) will follow to try and bring Monticello back to prominence.
Coach Harris simply summed it up when she said she is “excited for the year.” We are too!
Expectations are high for the 2017 boys cross country team. But that is nothing unusual for a program that has enjoyed its fair share of success in the past seven seasons.
In that time span, the Buck harriers captured four state titles in a row (2011-2014) while placing two runners on the top of the podium as state individual champions (2014 and 2016).
With one more state title, Monticello will join Timpview and St. Josephs with 10 state titles, trailing only Mountain View from Orem with 15 overall state titles.
Will this team add to the Monticello legacy? To answer this question, we asked Coach Jeff Hunt five questions about his program going into the 2017 season:
1. How did the summer workouts go?
One of the better summers we have had. Even with the Scout Jamboree, kids have been coming out and working hard.
We recently had a combined camp with San Juan and nearly everyone came and had a great time. It has been great to see the excitement the kids have this year.
2. What is the strength of this team?
It is definitely depth. It is not easy to have depth at a small school, but we are running 14 boys and there will be a lot of competition for the seven varsity spots at the state meet.
We have every runner back from a team that finished third at last year’s state meet (Adam Bunker, Ryan Bird, Lucas Hatch, Dylan Bird, Justus Robison, Zac Musselman, Hyrum Johnson), plus Britton Brewer, and newcomers Alan Pettit, Parker Walker and Bowden Hunter who could all push for a varsity spot.
Freshman Dawson Atwood, Taw Robinson and Robert Musselman could also jump in if there are some injuries.
The team should be led Adam Bunker, who is the top returning runner in 1A. The team has shown they have grown up a lot in the past year.
3. What newcomers will have an impact on this year’s team?
Alan Pettit never lost a race in seventh or eighth grade, and it will be an interesting transition to high school.
4. What are the teams to watch 1A cross country and where does Monticello fit in that mix?
Defending champs Panguitch is still the team to beat as their top four runners are pretty darn good. Bryce Valley and Milford should also have great teams, so we have a battle on our hands. We are probably one of the top two teams right now.
5. What impact will the realignment of 1A schools and a change in scoring at the state meet have on Monticello’s chances to win another state title?
1A is supposed to have a rule change going to top four scoring, and it is unclear the impact it will have other than making the state meet more competitive. We should see more teams at the state meet.
I think the largest impact will be adding Wayne to our region, making it harder to get to the state meet.
Monticello Football Kicks Off
The Monticello Football team brought back Friday Night Lights last week in Moab. However, before the game, there was a tribute and moment of silence to honor fallen soldier and Buckaroo graduate Aaron Butler, who died in Afghanistan earlier in the week.
In a nice show of support for Butler’s sacrifice, Monticello wore yellow ribbon stickers on their helmets.
After kickoff, Monticello struggled to move the ball. This continued throughout much of the game, and the Bucks came away with a disappointing 39-6 loss to Grand.
Monticello amassed only 151 yards of total offense, most of which came on the ground.
Starting his first game at quarterback, Spencer Knudsen connected on onthree of seven passes for eleven yards and one TD.
Brayson Wilcox, Max Hedglin and Thomas Anderson caught one ball each – with Hedglin snagging his for a TD late in the fourth quarter.
The bulk of the Buck offense came via the rush, which netted 140 yards on 36 carries. Running backs Weston Nebeker and Thomas Anderson carried the ball for 71 yards and 62 yards on twelve carries each.
Spencer Knudsen also gained seven yards on 10 attempts. Brayson Wilcox’s only rush resulted in a one yard loss.
As much as the Bucks struggled to move the ball, they had an equally difficult time stopping the Red Devil attack, which came away with 393 yards in total offense – with only 40 yards of that coming through the air connecting on two of three attempts.
Not surprisingly, Grand controlled the clock while pounding it on the ground, holding the ball for 27:22 compared to Monticello’s 20:38 time of possession.
The game was played fairly clean with Monticello making the lone turnover of the game on a fumble. Grand was penalized six times for 52 yards and Monticello only had five miscues for 41 yards.
The Buckaroos look to bounce back this week on the road August 25 at Wayne in a non-region contest. Kick-off will be at 7 p.m. in Bicknell.
Monticello cross country
Probably feeling like they were getting away with something, the Buckaroo boys kicked off the 2017 cross country season on the first day of school and without their coach at Sugarhouse Park.
It appears to have been worth missing that first day, as the Bucks, running as a JV team, finished 13th out of 38 teams – besting many, much larger 4A, 5A, and 6A schools.
Adam Bunker had a nice start to the season finishing fourth in a field of 439 runners with a time of 16:31.6.
Following Bunker is Ryan Bird (18:07.6) and 61st overall, Alan Pettit (18:50.8) and 92nd, Hyrum Johnson (19:24.1 – 124th), Dylan Bird (19:26.6 – 125th), Lucas Hatch (19:56.5 – 165th), Justus Robison (20:19.3 – 204th), Britton Brewer (20:26.2 – 214th), Parker Walker (20:43.3 – 232nd), and Bowden Hunter (21:44.8 – 124th).
It was a strong start to the season, but Coach Hunt stressed to the boys that their times need to get much better to contend for a 1A state title.
The girl’s season will start with the Monticello Cross country team’s home meet at Loyds Lake, Friday August 25 at 3 p.m.
Monticello Buckaroos Volleyball
The 2017 Monticello Volleyball season preview will follow next week. The Volleyball season starts in St. George with the Dixie tournament on August 25 and 26.