Kaysville • The sunlight was just beginning to stream over the mountains, and one by one, members of the Davis cross-country team arrived, bundled in layers to combat the morning chill but ready to run.
Less than a week after seeing the culmination of a goal several years in the making, the Darts had set their sights on another target. It didn’t matter that it was early in the morning after Thanksgiving — they were prepared to work.
For the first time, both the Davis boys’ and girls’ teams qualified for the Nationals, which will take place Dec. 1 in Portland, Ore. The girls won the Southwest Regional on Nov. 17 to qualify, while the boys finished second to American Fork to earn their invite.
Now that they’ve got both teams qualified, which has long been an aspiration of the program, the Darts are looking to do more than just soak up the experience of racing at Nationals. They’re determined to stand out on the national stage, which means making more sacrifices.
“I think it just becomes a habit,” Alex Hedquist said about the Darts’ morning workouts over Thanksgiving break. “It’s scheduled into your day automatically, and you don’t even need to worry about it. I think that just shows how focused we are. There’s nothing that will get in the way of it.”
Both the Davis boys’ and girls’ teams have been local powerhouses for several years, but it’s been the boys who have received much of the attention on the national landscape. That’s changing this year, though, after the girls captured their third straight state title and became the first team from Utah ever to win the Southwest Regional.
“Getting both our boys and girls there shows the strength of our team. It shows we’re really unified, I think,” said Hedquist, who finished 14th to lead the boys at the Regional.
The Davis boys are no strangers to competing on the national level. They finished third at Nationals last season after first qualifying two years ago. However, only one Davis girl, Shea Martinez, ever has raced at Nationals. The prospect of seeing both the boys’ and girls’ teams compete is gratifying for coach Corbin Talley.
“We knew this would be our year” to qualify both teams, Talley said. “We had our whole girls’ team coming back, our boys’ team was going to be strong again, so we set that goal to get both teams there. We didn’t want to look past state, but we really did train for this a lot of the year.”
While the boys’ and girls’ teams support and encourage each other, there will be some competition to see who can place higher at Nationals. After being overlooked for so long, the girls are looking to stake their claim as Davis’ premier cross-country team, though they know the boys won’t easily give up that mantle.
“The boys have had so much attention that the girls are like, ‘It’s our year this year. We’re going for it,’” said Ellie Child, who finished seventh in the Regional. “There’s definitely a little friendly rivalry, I guess.”