Payson cross country team meets Utah distance running legends

Submitted by katie.kelly on
Front row : Jackson Marvin, Spencer King, Thomas Toone, Autumn Huntington. Back row: Danielle Sackley, Xane Harmon, Doug Padilla, whittni Orton-Morgan, Anna Camp-Bennett, Clayton Young, Ethan Kimmel, Isaac Kimmel, Madeleine Christensen, Eden Edwards, Bailey Watson
Cross Country

The Payson Lions high school cross country runners enjoyed a rare treat for their summer cross country camp last week as they heard from four national champions, a two-time Olympian, and two celebrated coaches. 

During the two-day camp, which took place on Tuesday and Wednesday, the team heard from Doug Padilla, the first sub-4-minute miler in the history of Utah and a two-time Olympian; Clayton Young, the 2019 NCAA 10,000-meters champion and 2021 USATF 15k champion; Whittni Morgan, 2021 NCAA cross country champion; Anna Camp-Bennett, 2021 NCAA 1500 champion; Madey Dickson, a BYU cross country alumna who has coached at Herriman High School and is the incoming assistant coach of Salt Lake Community College's new cross country program; and Marcus Dickson, Madey's husband, who ran a 4:01 mile while competing in track at BYU and is now the coach at Summit Academy High School in Bluffdale. Morgan and Camp-Bennett were also members of BYU's 2020–21 NCAA national champion cross country team.

"Cross country camp was definitely a great time, and the watermelon was some of the best I've ever had," said junior Thomas Toone, before adding, "Payson cross country forever!"

As well as listening to champion athletes and coaches, the team covered some significant mileage in a series of challenging distance runs, including a run on the trails alongside Deer Creek Reservoir, another to Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon, and another in Payson's Forebay trail system. In addition to running, the athletes played speed frisbee golf, missionary tag, and Marcus ball.

"The best part was definitely when we got to dip our feet in Bridal Veil Falls after running in the 90-degree weather," said Madeleine Christensen, a senior on this year's team. "I loved how all of the speakers were there for your best interest. They gave us all tips and advice on different things to help us get better."

The Lions will make their race debut on August 19 at their home meet—the Lion Night Hunt, which will take place in the evening with runners sporting glowsticks in addition to the race numbers. Coach Stan Peck said the Lions would welcome any other eligible runners who would like to join the team.

"We're going to have an awesome and fun experience this fall," he said. "We hope more runners will join us."

Michael Sackley, Stan Peck