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South Jordan Journal

Bingham Cross Country Looks to Improve This Season

Aug 23, 2016 03:38PM ● By Billy Swartzfager

Some of Bingham’s cross country team at a retreat in the Uintah’s during the summer. —Alisha Paxton

By Billy Swartzfager | [email protected]

The Bingham boys cross country team took seventh place overall last season, and the girls team didn’t place. But the team as a whole is looking to improve on those standings by finishing in the top 10 for both the boys and the girls when the state competition happens later this fall. 
This year’s team is made up of mostly underclassmen, and many of the older runners have only a year of cross country experience under their belts, so, finishing in the top 10 at year’s end may prove to be challenging. The team does have strong leadership, however, and coaches have already noticed support and bonds growing from that. 
One such leader, senior Whitney Rich, who placed third overall in last year’s cross country state tournament and won two events for Bingham at the state track meet last spring, has taken the helm for the girls squad. 
“She backs up the coaches’ lessons on stretching and body maintenance with her own tactics and experiences,” Bingham coach, Alisha Paxton said.  
Recently, many of the girls participated in a camp recently and went in to it not knowing each other very well, but they have emerged working together in ways that Paxton hasn’t seen from her girls squad in years. 
The boys have a few more veterans to share the load at the head of the pack. According to Paxton, team captain, Tyler Lebaron has done an amazing job of bringing the group of boys together. Senior Josh Richardson is also looking to have a great year and break into the top 20 at the state meet. Following those two are juniors, Mike Harker and Chris Rains, who are gunning for the team’s No. 1 position as well. 
The team has been hard at work since track and field season last spring, something in which many of the cross country runners also participate. The team starts its summer miles in late May, beginning with a manageable number of miles and adding distance as the summer goes by. Together, they run three days a week during the summer to prepare for the coming season. And, most of the team members, which is hovering around 90 total this season, run together on off days and weekends as well. 
During practices that began in August the team focuses on many of the aspects that will make them stronger as the season progresses. The runners focus on things like hills, pace and distance, as well as the combination of physical ability and mental strength.

“I see them stepping up to those challenges and learning that they are tougher than they thought,” Paxton said. “If they finish and gave it their all, both physically and mentally, we are happy.”
The goals for the Miners this year are simple. The team wants to finish closer as a team, and they will need to do that if the boys are to finish better than last year’s seventh place and the girls to finish inside the top 10.
Their focus isn’t so much on the place at the podium, though. Each runner is encouraged to push himself or herself and give every outing, whether it is practice or an official race, the best attempt. By committing to that philosophy and taking pride in efforts made, both individually and as a whole, Paxton feels like this year’s goals are completely reachable.
She said she is excited by what she is seeing from her upperclassman and is the first person to elate over someone who didn’t finish first but who improved their time. 
“We hope to improve by finish closer as a team,” she said. “We will be running as a pack.”