Prep cross country: Stansbury's Slade draws motivation from last season

Prep cross country • He and his teammates will compete in the Region 11 meet next week.
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Stansbury senior cross-country runner Austin Slade wants more.

He finished seventh in the 3-mile race at last year's state meet, but he wasn't satisfied. He thought he was capable of more. From that moment forward, Slade has been out to prove that he is among the best.

"This offseason was the first real summer that he spent putting in a lot of miles," Stansbury cross-country coach Steve Allen said. "He has really worked on being mentally strong, and he is doing a great job fighting through discomfort."

Slade showed early in the season that he had made great strides. He crossed the finish line more than a minute ahead of anybody else at the Premier Invitational in August. That race made him look like the class of 3A.

Then he slumped. He still was finishing in the top 10 in most meets, but he wasn't blistering the field.

"I just got this huge mental block," Slade said. "I started worrying so much about what other runners were doing that I stopped focusing on myself."

Slade said that once he realized that he needed to focus on himself, he was able to get past it. That happened just before last week's Westlake Invitational. He ran well for most of the race but was in a distant second place behind the leader. He was able to center his mind on his running and went on a sprint to the finish. Slade was not able to overtake the leader, but he finished just two-tenths of a second behind him, and he feels he is back on track.

"My game plan for the rest of the year is to focus on what I can control, that's it," he said.

It appears that Slade has figured out things at just the right time with the Region 11 meet next week. The state meet to follow will be the final race for many of the runners, but not for Slade. He will be running at the Foot Locker Nationals in California in December, and Utah Valley University has shown some interest in him, so competing in college is a possibility. But he's still focused on improving on last year's finish at the state meet.

Slade is showing the rest of Class 3A that the Stallions are not to be taken lightly. He has set the bar high for the future of the Stansbury program.

"He is an amazing kid and works so hard," Allen said. "He truly has helped our younger kids want more for themselves by watching his example and effort."

Sophomore turns heads

Darian Leviett is only in his second year at Kearns High School, but he is racing beyond his years. Leviett has finished second in two races so far this season, and he has amassed five total top-10 finishes. He placed 24th at the Region 2 meet as a freshman last season, but he is running stronger and more consistently this year. Leviett should finish in the top 15 at the region meet this season, and an even better finish is within his reach.

Junior leads Tooele

Courtney Chambers enjoyed a better showing than expected at the Region 11 meet last week. She took home 12th place in the 5,000-meter race at Mt. Ogden Golf Course.

It was Chambers' second top-12 finish at that distance this season. Chambers also has a 10th-place finish in the 3-mile race under her belt.