the Internet home of HS track / field / CC

Front Page

Cross Country 1999

Bingham girls best ever? Yes

by Doug Speck

This past Cross-Country season saw a whirlwind team of girls
from Bingham HS in South Jordan come down from altitude in Utah
to take apart the nation's best a couple of times. Their margin
of domination in a series of meets left observers often aghast at
the impressive quality and depth of Coach Jeff Arbogast's 1999
crew! Natural comparisons were made off of their seasonal
results, with this author, involved in team rankings in the sport
for the last twenty years, feeling confident in making the
judgment that this year's Bingham team, ranked #1 in the Final
Harrier Magazine poll, is the country's best team ever!!

That is a big mouthful, but let's try to indicate why. The
nation's finest distance group is felt by many to be the
University High School (Irvine, California) team of the 1981-82
school year. The team was led by Polly Plumer, who still has the
National Prep Mile Record of 4:35.24. Plumer anchored the still
standing National Record Setting Distance Medley Relay team for
Uni, with the squad's 11:43.53 still standing from the Mt. SAC
Relays the spring of that year, with an 18:52.5 for the 4x1500
distance the next day at Walnut, a 4:43 1500 meter average for
four that is a tad better or at least equal to the equivalent
current 4x1600 (20:20.87) or 4xmile (20:34.4) national records. 

During the Fall of 1981 Uni set the still standing Team Time
Course Record at the popular Mt. SAC facility used for
Invitational and Southern Section Championship competitions of
92:25, an 18:29 average on the tough course that measures out
just short of three miles, but contains a series of three hills
that will slow down the act of even the best harriers. No team
has ever come within forty seconds of University's team time at
Mt. SAC, with some number one ranked teams from the area having a
couple of good shots at it each fall since the early 80's. 

Bingham this year traveled to the Great American Cross-
Country Festival in late September, as Meet Director Rick Hill
shot his affair out into the stratosphere the first year, with
the best ever gathering of highly ranked teams in U.S. History. 
From New York to Texas, from Ohio to Wyoming, basically
"nationwide," the Bingham crew had a chance to show how they
could do! 

In a simply stunning effort Bingham had all of its
scorers inside the top fifteen of a field frightening in quality
through the early running, with twins Laura and Jackie Ziegle up
pressing the pace in the front. With one expecting a fall
eventually from such mighty heights early on against a truly
super field, it simply never happened, as the Miners went 2-3-10-
11-19 (then 29-33) to total 45 points against the best group of
prep teams ever gathered! 

By comparison, a slightly deeper Boys
team contest had the winner, The Woodlands (Texas) score 108. 

In reviewing the meet results, which included a couple of teams from
the area I am from, I concluded that the course at McAlpine-
Greenway Park seemed to run very close to the Mt. SAC facility in
time. Interestingly, upon my arrival back in California after
the meet, Richard Gonzalez, who does the current Southern Section
rankings in the sport, indicated quickly that the North Carolina
course seemed to run very close to times run at Mt. SAC for
comparison purposes. 

Bingham's team time at North Carolina was a
"big-gulp" 91:05, an 18:13 average! They basically averaged for
their scoring five a minute back of Felicia Guiliford, the winner
at the Great American Classic, who was ahead at the Foot Locker
Nationals before taking a fall with asthma problems. Wow!!! 

After a stunning State Meet run in Utah to win the title
there with 19 points (!), there was a significant time gap of six
weeks until the Western Regional at the very Mt. SAC facility
where University had done its championship running the year of
their all-time consideration. One could hardly expect the
Bingham girls to hold their form during this period of well over
a month after the regular, scholastic portion of their year was
over. The facility at Mt. SAC that is used for the Foot Locker
Regional is a 5000 meter course that is 250 meters longer than
the regular high school course, with athletes running past the
finish line at the regular course, then racing around a
straightaway, turn, and half a straightaway on the track to the
finish to make the entire 5k distance. 

With the University Girls
averaging roughly 6:10 per mile for their pace on the Mt. SAC
course, and Bingham racing 250 yards past the regular course
finish line at roughly the same pace (6:10 per mile is about 46
seconds per 200 meters plus 11 more seconds for 50 meters (1/4 of
the 200 meter distance if you are still with us--subtract 55-60
seconds to compare the two courses from longer to shorter), if
they could run somewhere under 19:30 for their average on the 5K
course they would be very comparable to University. Again, keep
in mind that Bingham was racing well over a month past their
state meet, the biggest team competition for almost every team in
America, so we could not expect too much! 

Well, the girls did
not let us down, as Laura Zeigle raced to a fourth place finish
to make the Foot Locker Nationals at 18:16, Jess Winters was 21st
at 19;23, Jackie Ziegle was 29th at 19:34, Charity Catmull 32nd
at 19:37, and Lisa Paxton 48th at 19:57--pretty impressive to put
five inside the top fifty of the region that would later win the
Foot Locker Nationals team contest! 

The 96:47 team time was a
19:22 average, with the group appearing capable of racing an
average somewhere in the 18:20-25 range on the regular Mt. SAC
course some six weeks after their state meet and fully two and a
half months after their stunning North Carolina effort! What can
you say---------! Not much, except that this is undoubtedly the
finest female high school cross-country team in U.S. History! 

Coach Arbogast talks about dreams formed over summer camp
fire pits. Nice start to a fairy tale season that really came
true with top races from coast to coast that helped to make the
1999 prep harrier season a truly special one for all of us!
Congratulations to all the team members Laura, Lisa, Jackie,
Jess, Charity, Stacie, Lynette, and Angie, Coach Arbogast, and
the wonderful Bingham support crew of alums and parents! 

This Web site is maintained by 
John Dye [email protected]
Material Copyright 1998-1999-2000