‘It’s part of the Utah pride’: Herriman High School boys cross-country team wins national title
Dec 3, 2023, 4:14 PM | Updated: Dec 4, 2023, 2:18 pm
HERRIMAN — A Utah high school team is making history in the sports world. Herriman High School’s boys cross-country team won the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland on Saturday.
The team of seven runners is the first in the state and the southwest region to place first in the competition.
“In 2022, we weren’t even ranked going into that season and this whole group was a part of that season,” said assistant coach Josh Pugel. “To go through all that and be the number one team in the country is a massive accomplishment.”
Pugel said the boys completed the 5K race at just over a five-minute pace per mile.
“For other teams, they have good hitters, they might have good catchers, good pitchers, it’s not going to win them the game, but in cross-country, you’ve got seven guys and, on the day, at least five of them have to have a great race in order for them to win any meet,” he said.
The team flew back to Salt Lake City Sunday afternoon. To welcome home the national champions, Herriman police and the Unified Fire Authority escorted them through town to the high school.
“Hero’s welcome,” said parent Lenny Ogomo. “They wanted this and put in the work, we’re here to reward them.”
He and dozens of others brought signs and cheered along with the school’s marching band as the teammates drove in.
Herriman cross-country now on the map
“I think we have the right coach, we have the right talent, “Ogomo said. “Herriman is on the map now and it’s going to be on the map for a while.”
Runner Hyrum Wood said he didn’t expect a crowd that large.
“Cross-country’s not like a wide, well-known sport but it was good to have people here,” he said.
The senior said he and his teammates were inspired by last year’s seniors. They said they pushed themselves to win this title.
“You see a lot of people who may not be good sportsmen, who may kind of goof off all the time during meets, but our kids are really focused, they really care about each other,” Pugel said.
Wood said they also let their friendly competition with American Fork High School fuel their performance. American Fork finished second in the championship meet, while Riverton placed ninth.
Wood said he believes distance runners in Utah are getting the attention they deserve.
“We’re really good,” Wood said. “It’s part of the Utah pride and distance culture is now revolved around Utah.”