Utah Distance Challenge Preview

Photo by Kevin Hansen

Back to the Oval we go! After a quick, two-week hiatus since the UHSTCA meet (and with Pocatello's Simplot Games just around the corner), Utah's top distance runners will be converging on the Olympic Oval in Kearns, Utah this Friday evening.

The Oval has developed a reputation for fast times thanks in large part to its near ideal conditions: clean, crisp air from the ice that makes up most of the "infield"; cool, highly-regulated temperatures; and, perhaps most of all, a 440m long track with wide, gradual turns. As a testament to these great racing conditions, this year's UHSTCA meet saw a staggering twenty-seven-27(!)-US Top-50 track performances over the course of its two days.

Unfortunately for the sprinters, this is the Distance Challenge and only events 400m and longer will be raced Friday night.

Who and what to watch:


Girls: Two weeks ago, it was two future BYU Cougars battling it out at the front of the pack. Bingham's Whitney Rich eventually emerged triumphant with a winning time of 4:56.18 (US#3), finishing just ahead of Provo's Kate Hunter (US#5 4:59.08). Fortunately for the field on Friday, these two historically don't race at the Distance Challenge, opening things up for the rest of pack, including Aubrey Argyle of Davis (5:04.26 at UHSTCA), McKenna Lee of Weber (5:08.93), and Sara Musselman of American Fork (5:13.52).

Boys: Even a casual glance at current top national times in the 1600m reveals how impressive the 1600m race was at the Oval just two weeks ago. Nine of the thirteen best 1600m times in the nation this season came from the first heat at UHSTCA. Best of all? Judging by race history, all those runners are likely coming back to dance Friday night. Which events these stars ultimately choose to enter will change the complexion of the 1600m race a bit, but spectators can expect fireworks regardless of who toes the line. Logan McKay's meet record 4:10.37 is certainly in jeopardy.


Girls: On the girls' side, Provo High's Meghan Hunter ran a blistering US #13 time of 55.93 seconds two weeks ago on the Oval. Will she back for more Friday night? If not, who will rise to take her place?

Boys: At last year's Distance Challenge, it was mid-distance specialist Christopher Kauffman from Lehi running away from the field with an impressive 50.68. This year, don't be surprised to see Davis' Kelton Johnson, who ran 50.58 at UHSTCA, challenging for the win.


Girls: Two weeks ago, it was Provo's Kate Hunter running to the win with a US#7 time of 2:13.76. In Hunter's absence on Friday, a hungry pack of motivated runners led by a Davis High's Aubrey Argyle and Ally Geisler and American Fork's Sara Musselman will by vying to break the tape first.

Boys: Springville's Haden Penrod will look to improve upon his impressive UHSTCA performance, a US#3 1:53.37. But he won't be without competition on Friday night. Spanish Fork's Heston Andersen ran a US#15 1:55.37 two weeks ago at the Oval. Likely joining the party this time around are American Fork's McKay Johns (1:53.99 PB) and Patrick Parker (1:53.48 PB). Could Logan McKay's Utah Indoor record (1:52.64) be in danger? Definitely.


Girls: With Bingham's Rich likely absent Friday, Davis' Aubrey Argyle will toe the line Friday as the favorite. At the UHSTCA meet, Argyle produced a US#9 time of 10:53.34. Challenging Argyle will likely be Weber's McKenna Lee (11:02.84 last year) and Springville Julie Sumsion (2016 4A State Champ in cross country). If Argyle focuses on the 3200 on Friday, Olivia Hoj's meet record (10:54.20) is on notice.

Boys:  On the boys' side, the 3200m race looks to close the night with a bang. While Ogden High's dynamic duo of Garrett Barton and Travis Feeny raced to the wire at UHTSCA to finish with US#5 and US#6 times (9:19.00 and 9:19.22, respectively), the pair are likely going to be missing on Friday. Fortunately, Davis' Camren Todd, who went US#15 in 9:25.35 at UHSTCA, will likely be more than willing to face any challengers. Happy to respond to the call of duty is young-gun Grant Gardner from Springville (9:27.31 PB). Once again, another meet record (9:23.33 Brad Nye) is in jeopardy.

Meet Records

Girls 400m - 56.31, Lauren Baxter, Timpview 2013

Girls 800m - 2:09.84, Shea Martinez, Davis, 2013

Girls 1600m - 4:59.43, Kashley Carter, Juab 2015

Girls 3200m - 10:54.20, Olivia Hoj, Olympus 2016

Boys 400m - 49.34, Cam Dopp, Woods Cross 2013

Boys 800m - 1:52.90, Ricky Faure, Rock Springs, 2014

Boys 1600m - 4:10.37, Logan MacKay, 2016

Boys 3200m - 9:23.33, Brad Nye, Davis, 2012

Schedule of Events:

5:00 pm Girls 1600m

6:00 pm Boys 1600m

7:00 pm Girls 400m

7:20 pm Boys 400m

7:45 pm Girls 800m

8:00 pm Boys 800m

8:20 pm Girls 3200m