Timpview cross country poised for a title

For the Thunderbirds, everything is always about the team

Published: Sept. 27, 2007 12:23 a.m. MDT

PROVO - Fresh off its third invitational victory after the Provo Bulldog Invite on Sept. 15, the Timpview boys cross country team is poised for a repeat of last year's state title.

The Thunderbirds cruised to a 70-point victory at the BYU Autumn Classic and finished 1:33 ahead of their nearest competitor at the American Fork Grass Relays.

Timpview's success comes despite losing three of last year's top seven, including all-stater Michael Devonas. So what's the secret?

Strong JVs and Coach, said senior Nathan Fletcher. We'd be slow old grandmas without Coach.

The mark of any program with longevity, junior varsity runners have stepped up to fill in scoring spots vacated by graduated seniors.

The JVs are the ones that push the varsity,' said T-bird coach Brian Kuhlmann. Jon Nelson was our JV of the year last year. Nelson, a junior, led Timpview to victory at the Bulldog Invite, out leaning Riverton's Trevor Sharp for first place individually. Nelson also finished fifth out of 221 runners at the Autumn Classic - not bad considering Nelson did not even compete at last year's state meet.

But Nelson's improvement would be meaningless, perhaps not even possible, without the strength of the team, a well-known fact to senior captain Krys Gardner.

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From the start of practice to the end, everything is about the team, he said. The JVs cheer on the varsity, the varsity stays for the JV races - it's all about the team.

It's always about the team when the T-birds race. Timpview hasn't had individual standouts like last year's individual champion Justin Hedin, or state-record holder Luke Puskedra, but neither Mountain Crest or Provo have been able to beat seven Thunderbirds running together. Timpview had a 32-second spread one through five at Sugarhouse Park last year, the best in any classification.

They're friends too, Kuhlmann said. For the most part, that's what keeps you together during races when people start to string out a little bit.'

We go on group dates together,' Fletcher said. With girls, not each other, and everybody's on the ukulele club. Kenny taught us how to play.' Kenny Kline, the T-birds seventh runner, is also president of Timpview's ukulele club.

Pretty much we just all like to play the uke, Kline said. We're gonna jam once a month and play at an old folks home soon. Timpview hopes to work in another state championship and possibly a trip to Nike Team Nationals - around dates and ukulele concerts, of course.

It'd really help a lot with the team to win state this year. Next year we return five juniors, and it'd also give us a lot of confidence for Nike Team Nationals, Fletcher said.

Ranked fourth in the southwest region, Timpview would have to finish in the top two at a regional meet in Tempe, Ariz., to qualify for the national competition in December.

We're definitely thinking beyond state this year, which is something we usually don't do, Kuhlmann said. It used to be a publicity thing - a committee decided who got to go, but now you have to qualify.'

A repeat title would definitely be a step in the right direction. Since 1990, only four teams in 4A or 5A have won three or more titles in a row: Mountain Crest, Bingham and Mountain View.

With five returning and a strong junior varsity, the Thunderbirds could just be the fourth.