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Falcon cross country wins top trophy in Alabama race

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Megan Wallgren | Touriddu

It was a rainy weekend in Huntsville, Alabama, but the Skyridge boys cross country team was all smiles as they took top honors at the Garmin RunningLane Cross Country Championships held there on Saturday, December 2.

The varsity runners took first place in the Boys 5000 Meter Gold Run at the national meet. Teams from across the country participated in the event and there were 290 runners in the Gold Run, many unattached.

Twenty-two teams competed in the Gold Run, the highest division of the competition. Representing Utah along with Skyridge were Orem, which took fifth place, and Springville, which finished tenth.

The Falcons were victorious with a score of 108. The team had an impressive 0:31 runner 1-5 split and a mile average of 16:01.

Leading the Falcons was senior Devan Greene, who finished 41st overall with a time of 15:45:60. Close behind was senior Ezra Nelson finishing 48th with a time of 15:48:40.

Senior Aaron Caldwell came in 81st followed by junior Taylor Kjar at 112th and junior Edward Fuller at 123rd. Ian Greene and Cooper Tripp rounded out Skyridge’s varsity team.

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“It was awesome. It was unbelievable,” said Greene. “We went in with the confidence we could win, but finding out we actually won…it was crazy.”

Kjar said, “Honestly, it took a while to set in. This is my third year running in that race. I didn’t ever really feel like we’d win that race. It was surreal.”

Rain was pouring on the course as the race commenced, but the Falcon runners took it in stride. “There was a big puddle at the start and you couldn’t even see the ground. I thought ‘This is it. This is what we’re running in,’ and I embraced it,” said Greene.

Skyridge assistant coach Mike Nelson traveled with the team to the competition. He said after dealing with injuries and setbacks on the team this year it all came together for a stellar race in Huntsville.

“We knew we had a special team if we could just get everyone to fire together. It just didn’t happen until RunningLane,” he said.

Coach Nelson added that Utah is one of the most competitive places to run in the nation, citing that five of the top ten teams in the national races this year were from Utah.

“We went into it knowing that we can run with any of them. There was a lot of positive mental energy, a lot of hype and focus and they were doing the right things and it clicked,” he said.

Senior runner Ezra Nelson said, “It was awesome, we went in knowing that we could win, but there were a couple of teams ranked above us. It was fun to actually go and win it.”

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Ezra and his teammates watched the team results board change several times as runners came in. “It was pretty stressful. We’re watching the scoreboard and it just kept changing over and over again as runners came in. It changed so many times. It was fun to see when it was finally official.”

Of his team, Greene said, “We work really well together. We set goals and we stick to them. It’s all about working hard together, having good team bonding, and trusting in God to lead us.”