Bronco girls claim cross country title
When the 2017 cross country season began more than two months ago, not very many people in the Utah 3A Cross Country scene were talking about the San Juan Broncos.
In fact, in their first year competing at the 3A level, they probably weren’t much more than an after-thought to many opposing teams and even fewer gave the Broncos a chance to win a state title.
As the season progressed, the Lady Broncos continued to improve, week after week, before bringing home the Region 15 Championship two weeks ago. Even then, they were still considered by many to be long shots to win the school’s first ever State Championship at the 3A level.
Then, last Wednesday, October 18, they shocked the entire state by doing the unthinkable, bringing San Juan High their first 3A State Championship.
If winning a state title wasn’t enough, more impressive was the way they won it, finishing with three runners in the top ten. Only one other team (Juab) had more than one girl finish in the top ten.
San Juan was led by sophomore Rachel Barton’s sixth place finish (19:54). Seniors Nizhoni Warren and Jessica Walker took ninth and tenth respectively, crossing the finish line just under two seconds apart (20:31 and 20:32).
Sophomore Madison Palmer was the next Bronco to finish just three seconds later and charge behind Walker with a time of (20:36) in 13th place.
Rounding out the scoring runners for the Broncos was Celest Hillhouse, who finished 40th with a time of 22:45.
Congratulations to the Lady Broncos cross country team.
Team members include Jessica Walker, Nizhoni Warren, Rachel Barton, Madison Palmer, Celeste Hillhouse, Jalynn Swenson, Joy Parker, Rhiana James and Sadie Jensen.
In volleyball action, the Lady Broncos wrapped up their Region 15 schedule on Wednesday, October 18 by defeating the Grand County Red Devils in three sets, 25-14, 25-11 and 25-13.
San Juan finished third in Region 15 and will play in the Utah High School Activities Association 3A State Championship which begins Thursday, October 25 at Utah Valley University. The Broncos will play the number three seed from Region 14 on Court 4 at 10:30 a.m.
San Juan headed into their 2A play-in game last Thursday against the North Summit Braves with a lot on the line. With their regular season over, it was win or go home time for the Broncos. But more than that, there was a 40-year streak of qualifying for the state playoffs on the line.
San Juan was up to the challenge, though, as they punched their ticket to the playoffs for a record, 41 consecutive years, by beating the Braves 47-14.
The San Juan offense exploded, racing out to a 27-0 lead after one quarter of play. The Broncos first score of the game came on their first possession when Ethan Vess scored from nine yards out and Baylr Eldredge added the PAT, giving San Juan a 7-0 lead.
Dylan Ivins was the next Broncos to find pay dirt when he took a handoff from Eldredge and ran untouched into the end zone from five yards out. Once again Eldredge booted the PAT to give San Juan a 14-0 lead with 3:43 seconds left in the first.
It didn’t take the Broncos long to find the end zone again when Eldredge connected with Jaden Torgerson from 15 yards out just over one minute later. The point after attempt by Eldredge was good, giving San Juan a 21-0 lead.
On their next driv, Eldredge faked a sweep to Vess, then carried the ball 32 yards for the Broncos fourth score of the game. This time the PAT was not good, making the score 27-0 in favor of San Juan.
The second quarter saw the Broncos increase their lead to 34-0 on San Juan’s lone score of the period, a six-yard pass from Eldredge to Shay Laws and another successful Eldredge PAT.
Down big, the Braves didn’t give up, notching their first score of the game with just under a minute left in the first half to narrow the lead to 27 points at 34-7 to close out the first half.
The Broncos would score two more times in the third quarter, the first coming on a seven-yard strike from Eldredge to Ivins to put San Juan up 40-7 after the PAT failed.
San Juan’s final score of the game was on an impressive 42-yard run by Eldredge. He then added the PAT, giving the Broncos a 40-point lead, 47-7.
North Summit would add one more score late in the third and neither team would score in the fourth, resulting in a 47-14 win for the Broncos.
The win advances San Juan to the 2A Quarter-Finals where they will play the top team in 2A, the South Summit Wildcats. The game will be in Kamas, UT on Friday, October 27 and is scheduled for a 4 p.m. kickoff.