By Kurt Johnson
Photos by Chelsey Allder (DeseretNews.com) & Kurt Johnson
Picking the top anything of the year is never an easy proposition, and as we complete our third list of top Utah high school sports stories of the year for Preps Utah, we found that this list is no exception.
For the 2013-2014 school year, we released our Top 20 stories of the year, but this year, we have expanded our list to 25 stories, some of which combine multiple events that share common themes. Since the goal is not to be exactly right, as anything of this nature is entirely subjective, but to recognize as many of the great accomplishments of the student athletes across the state as we can, we hope you will understand.
Beginning July 13 and continuing for the next three weeks, we will release one or two items on our list per day, beginning with No. 25 and working our way up to story No. 1. Today, we announce No. 4.
#4 – Panguitch all-season stars
We live in an era of increasing athletic specialization as athletes are choosing one sport to focus on at an earlier and earlier age. When you live in a small town, school athletics demands that its athletes take a different path.
Nowhere was that more immediately apparent than it was in 2014-2015 at Panguitch High School. The girls sports teams at Panguitch relied on a core group of talented young ladies, who combined to win not one, not two, but four state championships.
Senior Darri Frandsen and junior Brittni Orton were the leaders for teams that won Class 1A state titles in cross country and volleyball during the fall, and then captured state championships in basketball in the winter season and track and field in the spring.
That is an amazing performance for essentially the same group of athletes, beginning with two state titles in the same sports season and continuing through an undefeated state title run in basketball and on to an overwhelming margin at the state track meet. It was certainly good enough for our Top 5 and we have placed it at No. 4 on our list of top stories for the 2014-2015 school sports year.
It all began at Sugar House Park, where Orton won her third state cross country title, with senior Catania Holman second and Frandsen finishing fourth. The Bobcats came in at 26 points and a significant gap over No. 2 team, Duchesne.
From there, Panguitch continued on to the UCCU Center at Utah Valley University, where Orton, Frandsen and junior Chesney Campbell led the Bobcats to the state volleyball championship for state title No. 2.
Unbeaten In Hoops
The Lady Bobcats didn’t even have a close game while building a 26-0 record and winning the Class 1A state girls basketball championship. The closest margins for Panguitch were a pair of 21-point games, a win over Desert Oasis of Nevada in the Mesquite Tourney and the Region 20 tournament championship game win over Piute.
Piute also managed to get within 22 of the Bobcats during the regular season, but the state title game rematch between the two went to Panguitch by a 58-28 count.
For the season, the Bobcats averaged 71.5 points per game while yielding fewer than 30 a night. In the state tournament, Panguitch won its first three games by scores of 87-10, 75-32 and 55-22 heading into that championship game win over Piute.
The Bobcats had four players average in double figures for the season, led by Frandsen, 6-foot-1 center, who dropped 16.69 points per contest. Frandsen also pulled down more than 13 points per game.
Orton (13 points, 7 assists, 5.5 steals per game), Taylor Bennett (12.65 points, 6.5 rebounds) and Campbell (12.2 points, 7 rebounds 4 assists) were the other most productive players statisticallly for Panguitch in a year filled with incredible performances.
The Panguitch girls closed out the year with yet another state title banner, this one coming when it out-pointed Altamont 185 to 55 at the 1A state track and field championships. The Bobcats were strong on the track and also in the field events.
Frandsen won a state title in discus and finished second to Orton in the 800 meter. Orton was second in the 400 meter and also won the 1,600 and 3,200, with Holman finishing second in both of those distance events.
Senior Brenna Mooney earned the state championship in shot put, with Campbell finishing fifth, and Campbell was also second in the high jump and the 100-meter hurdles. Makayla Dalton was another runner who finished in the Top 5 in more than one distance event.
When it ended, the cumulative effect was a championship year for the girls of Panguitch, and when you consider that the same core group of athletes, it was truly an amazing performance.
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