Your friend must not read the local papers. Ben has been a star runner in Utah since his sophmore year when he won the first of his 3 state championships in cross-country. He has made steady improvement over the past 3 years but is very humble about his talent. He has also been able to jump into some workouts with Salazar's group when they are in town and has held his own from what I heard. He made a good choice in going to Colorado. I am sure he will continue to impress.
What surprises me is that there are not more Ben Saarel's & Brian Schrader's (Flagstaff, AZ).
Kids born & raised at altitude.
Utah & Colorado should be absolutely dominating HS running, the way Eldoret, Kenya does.
To an extent, I agree; and to an extent, they do - teamwise, for their size, they are extremely good, and they have had their share of individuals as well.
Example - in my final rankings, there were 8 (out of 50) athletes from UT/CO in the individual rankings and 18 (out of 140) in my Pre-NXN rankings (which were the last rankings, and I don't think much would have changed).
That's about 16% of the individuals and 13% of the teams. Not bad for two states that total about 2.5% of the nation's population.
You could throw in New Mexico to that as well (another 3 teams and 1 individual - both ~2% - with another 0.66% of the population).