Special to The Sun
Before the Class 5A boys state cross country race began, Deer Creek coach David Riden had one final message for his squad.
The Antlers were picked to win their third state title in a row. Junior Bryce Balenseifen was the favorite to win a second straight individual state title. Still, Riden shared the biblical story of David and Goliath.
“Some people view us as Goliath but it talks about David running to meet that challenge and armed with nothing but faith,” Riden said. “We approached the race as having faith that God is in control. And with faith in what we’ve done and in our preparation. So in that sense, we’re always much more like David because we’re going in with complete faith in our ability to do what we’re meant to do.”
That faith and hard work paid off again. The Antlers placed three runners in the top 10 and cruised to their third straight state title.
Balenseifen again topped the 5A boys field, winning his second title in 15:47.
The junior had company through the first mile of the course, but sprinted across the finish line all alone.
“I wanted to establish a fast pace and I was able to take the lead on the first mile and a half,” Balenseifen said. “It’s a great feeling to win and a relief too.”
Duncan’s Walker Clampitt finished second with a time of 16:10.
Balenseifen became the school’s second runner to win multiple state titles. Taler Buck was a champion from 2009-11. Deer Creek has also produced the state winner in the past seven years.
Dakota Buck won in 2008 and Adam Young claimed the 4A title in ‘07.
Balenseifen was joined in the top 10 by fellow Deer Creek runners Drake DiAngelo and Blaine Powell. DiAngelo finished fifth in 16:44 and Powell was seventh in 16:50. Adam Warren and Chandler King rounded out the team scoring, finishing 12th and 13th respectively while Grant Schatzman placed 16th (17:03) and Brent Hollrah was 36th (17:54).
The state crown was the Antlers’ third in a row and fifth in the past 10 years. They won back-to-back titles in 2006 and ‘07.