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Corner Canyon runner wins state

Nov 15, 2017 08:00AM ● Published by Catherine Garrett

Corner Canyon’s Karli Branch poses with her sister Hannah, who now runs for Utah Valley University, following her 5A state title run Oct. 18 at Sugarhouse Park.

Two years ago, Corner Canyon’s Karli Branch placed 60th at the state cross-country championships. As a sophomore, she came in 20th. This year, on Oct. 18, she crossed the finish line first, with the 15th fastest time on the course at Sugarhouse Park, becoming the first Charger to win an individual cross-country state title.

“It feels so amazing to have won state,” she said. “I worked super hard for this.”

“Karli’s done a tremendous job of being an example of hard work where she was hardly competitive as a freshman and then improving last year and here she is,” Corner Canyon head coach Devin Moody said. “She has shown how the process works.”

The daughter of Jayson and Laura Branch of Draper wrote a goal down last December to win state and she started a serious journey toward that goal this summer with a strict eating and sleeping regimen while working on her weakness in running — sprints.

“It almost feels like a relief to have won since I was so focused on it and worked towards it for months,” Karli said. “It’s amazing to see that hard work has paid off.”

The turning point for Karli’s season was at the BYU Invitational where she placed fifth among top athletes, only missing second place by a few seconds. The next week, she won the Park City Invitational and then she became the Region 7 champion leading up to her state title.

“My coach tailored my workouts and helped me nail down a strategy that utilized my strengths,” Karli said. 

The junior began running while she was in middle school and two years ago, she and her older sister Hannah started training together.

“We were both pretty new to it, but we ran at the same pace so it was something we shared together,” Karli said. “We’re pretty competitive, yet supportive of each other.”

Hannah, who also ran for Corner Canyon, is the reigning Western Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year and a scholarship athlete at Utah Valley University.

“Seeing Hannah get a scholarship and feeling like I’m improving each year has given me even more motivation in running so I can get a D-I scholarship as well,” Karli said.

“Karli saw the process work for her sister and that has really motivated her,” Moody said.

Karli said running has taught her how to work hard and maintain a lot of discipline, while also filling her with gratitude. “As I’m running, I just can’t help but notice the beautiful nature around me,” she said. “It’s time that I get clarity and perspective and feel grateful for all the people who support me.”

To finish out her high school cross-country career next season, Karli still has some new goals: to have an undefeated year and beat the course record of 17:25 at Sugarhouse Park, a mark that her personal best is just 10 seconds faster than — all while she repeats as champion.

“I need to not be satisfied and always be driven,” Karli said.

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