Lone Peak's Girls Might Not Be A Mystery For Much Longer

Sometimes Lone Peak's girls cross country team doesn't even realize how good it can be.

But head girls coach Courtney Meldrum doesn't mind that fact. 

"They just love to run," said Meldrum, the former BYU athlete and now 5-year coach with the Knights. "They're committed to one another and really good girls. We don't focus on it." 

But it might be impossible to continue that mysterious legacy in 2019. After a big date at the BYU Autumn Classic on Saturday in Provo, the Knights, ranked No. 16 on the MileSplit50, will be traveling to Idaho for the first time to compete at the Bob Firman Invitational. 

The reason? 

"We have to put our name on a marquee event," Meldrum said recently. "Have to help the resume." 

While that might be Lone Peak's real breakout race of the fall, Saturday's outing could also be a statement of another kind. The Knights head into a vastly competitive race without its No. 2 runner, Reagan Gardner, and No. 4, Sarah Merrill, who are playing it safe and keeping an eye on health. 

But if Lone Peak still wins the race without two of its top five, that might begin to tell this team where the ultimate potential of the season lies. 

It helps that junior Eliza Arrington, who was unable to race at the state championships last year, is back in fine form. She won the Murray Invitational in a last-ditch kick last week, taking the nearly 3-mile course in 17:17.00, over Woods Cross' Carlee Hansen -- last year's Class 5A state champion. 

Arrington remains vital to this team's success. With her presence in the lineup, Lone Peak is one of the strongest teams in Class 6A, and possibly even at the NXR Southwest region.

That's besides the fact that the Knights are trying to get over the hump after two weird state championship experiences. Lone Peak lost by just eight points to American Fork a year ago without Arrington. But to compound matters, a talented freshman nearly fainted at the finish and fell to 33rd. 

The year prior, the team's No. 3 runner, Ali Bybee, did faint and therefore didn't finish. The team lost at least 25 points in a meet they lost by 22. 

"We've had two debacles the past two years," Meldrum said. "It's scary to say anything now, but do we have the potential to turn it around this year? For sure." 

Last year saw this team shoot up the national rankings after it dominated within Utah, only to fall after the postseason arrived. 

Meldrum knows that was an inconvenient ending to a largely successful season. So she's hoping 2019 is different. 

"They want to go to NXN," she said. "They do know it's a possibility. Is it the end goal? No. We take it week by week. But it's not what we talk about. We just try to keep them happy." 

Sooner or later, however, Lone Peak will finally realize it's talent. 

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