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Orem Officially #1 in Utah

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Orem Officially #1 in Utah

Orem repeats as Utah state champion.

Orem was the undisputed favorite heading into the girls high school Utah state championship. The Lady Stallions had posted intimidating scores, and until yesterday, had not surrendered a point-against during league or post-season. But Herriman did not enter the title match with the intention of being bullied, and the Mustangs took it to the reigning champ.

“Yes, they did catch us by surprise a bit,” Orem coach Jeremiah Tiatia said. “Herriman was more aggressive and a lot better since the last time we saw them. There was more on the line, and they wanted it.”

Tiatia had anticipated this uptick in competition and tried to keep practices intense – players fighting for positions and the coach’s respect – to avoid over-confidence. Herriman was voracious in contact and the rucks, and Orem had to adapt.

“It was a wake-up call,” Tiatia said. “They’re used to going into games and just running their stuff, but we had to adjust and match Herriman’s fight.”

Scrumhalf Kathryn Stowers took charge, as she’s wont to do, and got help from senior prop Kailei Peters – who scored a try – and up-and-coming freshman lock Aniya Matina in the forwards. Senior flyhalf Eternity Tenney was instrumental in launching her backs and maintaining a heavy-pressure defense, and her efforts afforded the MVP nod. Tiatia insisted that it was a well rounded team performance that helped the squad get on track, and inspirational performances were found across the pitch. The turnaround produced a 39-5 win over Herriman, easily the team’s toughest game all season.

“I’m actually happy for that [competition] because it gave the girls something to work off of,” Tiatia said. “Since it wasn’t a blowout, it felt like something was earned.”

All but two players from last year’s title-winning team were present for yesterday’s game, and that continuity certainly helped in the repeat title. The Stallions will lose five forwards and two backs in the upcoming season, but Tiatia feels good about the buzz they’ve created in the community, and the ranks will refill once again. Orem will continue to build its brand during next month's Regional All-Star Tournament in Colorado, and maybe we’ll start seeing these players on various select sides or recruited for college teams.

Until then, Orem has another year to enjoy the Utah state title, and will focus the near-future on repeating as fall 7s champion, as well.