Prep cross country: Sister power has boosted Skyline

Cross country • The Wintertons have been an institution for the Eagles for five years.
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In the fall of 2007, Skyline cross-country coach Thomas Porter brought ninth-grade runner Rebekah Winterton onto his squad. Porter said Winterton showed potential, but was also participating in junior-high cheerleading.

At the region meet in 2007, Porter looked up and saw Winterton's parents — and seven other little girls who looked strikingly similar to his young distance prodigy.

"In the middle of the race, I looked up and saw Rebekah's mom and dad and then all of these little blond-headed girls running all over the course," he said. "I had to track the Wintertons down after the race and ask, 'Are all these girls yours?' "

The answer was yes, and Porter immediately realized he might have Wintertons running for him for at least the next decade.

Rebekah went on to earn a scholarship at the University of Utah, and younger sister Jacqueline, who graduated in 2011, has taken her running talents to Utah State University.

Jacqueline Winterton appreciated following her big sister at Skyline and having her own personal cheering section at every race.

"It was fun having someone so close to my age on the team, and I think that pushed both of us," she said. "During the race, we'd always go by other teams and then I'd go by my family and they would all be cheering, and that really helped."

The Skyline cross-country team hasn't finished lower than sixth since 2007. That recipe for success has been fueled by a lot of hard work and at least one Winterton on every team.

And 2012 is no different.

Kiersten, a junior on the team, is joined by freshman Rosemary, and Porter is eagerly awaiting the arrival of Camille, Rachel and Sarah.

"The one that's in seventh grade this year I understand is very competitive and has a drive to be successful," he said.

The Wintertons are more than just runners. Porter said all are excellent students, terrific at playing the piano and great at stepping up as leaders.

"These girls are high-quality kids," said Porter. "They're very accomplished pianists, and are great teammates and leaders to the other girls." —

Eagles cross-country runners soaring

Since 2007, the Skyline girls cross-country team hasn't finished lower than sixth in the Utah State meet. On every one of those teams, coach Thomas Porter has had at least one Winterton sister.

Skyline finished third in the 2011 4A state cross-country meet. The Eagles' top returners are Jennie Townsend and Caroline Weiler, who finished eighth and ninth respectively.

Skyline has two Winterton runners on this year's squad, with three more still to enter high school.