Young Dinos Have Big Shoes to Fill

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ETV News stock photo by Jeff Barrett

Carbon cross country is ready to hit the trail once again this fall. The boys’ team comes into the season as the reigning state champions, but there are many new faces to the team. The Dinos top four runners were all seniors, leaving big shoes to fill.

“I don’t have a lot returning, but because of last year’s precedence, those underclassman that I have, they are working hard.” head coach Telisse Martak continued, “They know what it takes now. They watched that group of boys last year and saw what a state championship team looks like. So, they’re putting the work in too. They’re young, but that doesn’t mean they can’t perform… It’s definitely a good, solid team.”

Kobe Cruz (Jr.) and Braxton Ware (So.) will lead the team as both are returners from last season. Easton Humes is an incoming freshman who ran for nationals as an eighth grader. “Those three, if I raced them tomorrow, I’d put money on anyone of those three to win, that’s how close they are,” Martak stated. They will be joined by Pierce Bryner (Jr.) and “a slew of freshman and sophomores,” according to Martak. “The boys look promising.”

Emery and Richfield will be tough competition in the region as both teams finished in the top four in state, and neither lost many runners. “People are probably not considering Carbon a threat this year because of what we lost last year. But, like I said, those senior boys set a very good work ethic and the rest of them saw it. They were training with them last year, so they saw what it takes. Another year older, another year stronger.”

“[We have a] very young team though, on the boys. I have one senior boy, Kaden Gunter, and the rest are underclassmen.” Despite the team’s youth, Martak still plans to be “a threat this year.”

Martak is excited about the girls’ team as well. In fact, she said the team is the “best [I have had] in 14 years of coaching. I have the numbers, finally. I have 10 solid runners right now that have been running since the first part of June. They look awesome.”

The team will be led by returner Ambree Jones (So.), who finished 20th overall in state as a freshman. Another returner, Erin Stromness (Sr.), has made great strides in the offseason and greatly improved her time. Arriving freshman Sophie Taylor is also in the mix at the top. “That’s my one-two-three punch on the girls’ side,” said Martak. “Then, there are like five girls that can potentially fill that fourth and fifth spot, which is unheard of for Carbon High girls’ cross country.”

“The girls look promising. They have been running since June and they’re running everyday… some of them are running two-a-days, just like some of the boys,” Martak explained.

There are several changes in the sport this year due to COVID-19. Many of the large races have been cancelled, leaving coaches and runners questioning how the season will unfold.

“It stinks. That’s where we get fast. When we are running in a field of 500 guys that are running 16 [minute 5ks], that’s how we get fast. If we’re not racing that field, [who knows what our times will be],” said Martak. “But everybody’s in the same boat. That’s why I said this year’s a crapshoot… This year, not having the caliber of races, it’s going to be a crapshoot, really. [The state champion will be] whoever is probably healthy and shows up.”

With all the uncertainty surrounding this year, so all the team can do is focus on getting better everyday. “I’m a coach that preaches self-improvement,” stated Martak. There is no doubt it will be an intriguing cross country season. “I’m excited,” Martak wrapped up.

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