2016 Westlake Grass Relays Recap
The Grass Relays have been a great early season test for the elite teams in the Utah. The 2016 edition was moved from American Fork to Westlake, but still produced a lot of solid performances over the two mile course.
Top Three Performances: Grant Gardner, Whitney Rich, American Fork
Grant Gardner has been on fire this season. He raced wire to wire with Joe Benson at the Highland Invitational and ran a solo 15:48 3 mile at the Region 8 Preview, which is nearly 30s faster than his 2015 time at that event. At the Grass Relays, he posted the 3rd fastest time overall and was the only athlete not wearing an American Fork uniform to break 10 minutes. The Springville sophomore is solidifying himself as one of the best cross country runners in Utah.
Whitney Rich has a rollercoaster history with the Grass Relays. Going from 4th in 2013, to 26th in 2014, and then back down to 8th in 2015. She put an end to that trend this weekend with an 11:26 to own the fastest time of the day.
The American Fork boys are ranked #1 in the nation for a reason. There was plenty of elite competition at the Grass Relays, but they had no trouble coming away with a dominant win. Casey Clinger led the team to 3 of the fastest 4 times of the event. Their winning margin stretched out to over a minute on the next closest team.
Race of the Day: Boys Varsity (Results)
I can't say that an early season 2 mile race has too many implications for the Utah season as a whole, but there were some big shakeups that deserve attention. It wasn't a surprise to see American Fork come away with the win, but the chaos behind makes me even more excited to see the rest of the Utah season unfold.
American Fork and Davis look as strong as ever, but the big upset was Springville. Lone Peak had a huge season in 2015 and come in ranked 11th in the nation. This was a major result for a Springville team that didn't qualify for the 4A state meet two years ago, and finished 6th in 2015. If they are able to replicate this type of finish as the season progresses, it's going to make NXN SW even more intense this year.
The Olympus squad rounded out the top 5 about a minute back from Springville and Lone Peak.
Girls Roundup (Results)
Julie Sumsion and Sara Musselman were both about ten seconds back from Whitney Rich to be the only three athletes under twelve minutes. Similar to the boys race, the American Fork girls took home a pretty comfortable victory. The battle for the remaining top places was pretty tight between Davis (62:58), Skyline (63:15), and Lone Peak (63:22).