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State Titles to be Decided This Weekend at Eagle Island
The state cross country meet has arrived
Published: 10/28/2021 7:48:03 AM
Marlowe Hereford
Contributing Writer
 

ORDER GAME PHOTOS

Individual and team titles are up for grabs this weekend at the Idaho high school state cross country championships at Eagle Island State Park, which hosts the meet for the first time since 2017. The course itself, and how runners adjust to it, could be a big determining factor for how the titles, trophies and medals are decided this weekend. For several runners outside of the Boise area, particularly underclassmen, this weekend will be their first meet at Eagle Island due to the cancellations of the Bob Firman Invitational last year and this year and last year's Nike Cross Northwest Regionals.

Win streaks, career and program first titles, personal records and parity are all on the line. Here is a classification by classification preview of the meet.

CLASS 5A

The Idaho Falls boys and Boise girls claimed the 5A team titles last year with impressive low scores of 23 and 18, respectively. The titles were the fourth in a row for Idaho Falls, which moved to 5A last year, and third in a row for Boise.

While the seniors who contributed to that four-year run for Idaho Falls are gone, the Tigers have continued to be successful this fall with numerous new faces on varsity. Idaho Falls came away with the team title last week at a competitive 5A District 5-6 championship meet.

The consensus in eastern Idaho is that Rocky Mountain is Idaho Falls' biggest challenge for the 5A boys title this weekend. The teams have met twice this season, with Rocky Mountain winning both meetings. The Grizzlies also enter Friday with five of the top 20 5A boys times recorded thus far this season, per athletic.net.

The 5A boys individual title is wide open upon the graduation of three-time defending champion Nathan Green of Borah, who is now at Washington. Idaho Falls sophomore Luke Athay brings the fastest time by a 5A boy thus far this season into this weekend, a 15:05 from the Bob Conley Invitational earlier this month, and he is undefeated this fall in 5k races. Rocky Mountain's Trent Wigod, Rigby's Benjamin Ricks, Lewiston's Kobe Wessels and two Boise runners, Noe Kemper and Kaden Helder, will push Athay for individual gold.

Athay last ran at Eagle Island as a middle schooler, but has yet to compete at the venue for a 5k race.

"I really enjoyed (Eagle Island)," Athay said after the 5A District 5-6 championships. "I love that is has everything. It has so much different terrain. I think I'm in good shape and I can compete for the (individual) title."

The Boise girls return six of their seven girls who competed at last year's state meet and are No. 5 in DyeStat.com's most recent national girls team rankings. The Brave have also continued to show their depth this fall. Three of Boise's top runners--Allie Bruce, Sammy Smith and Logan Smith--also play soccer and have been limited in how many meets they could run. While those three girls played in the girls soccer state championships last weekend for eventual state runner-up Boise, the Brave won girls team title at the 5A District 3 cross country championships with four girls finishing in the top 14.

Sophomore Sammy Smith is defending 5A girls individual state champion and is one of seven Idaho girls to break the 18-minute barrier this fall. Among those sub-18 girls who could challenge her for the title are sophomore teammate Bruce and two Post Falls runners, senior Samantha Wood and junior Annastasia Peters. Wood has not raced since Oct. 2 and missed last week's 5A District I-II championships due to illness but has been cleared to run at state, according to the Coeur d'Alene Press. In Wood's absence, Peters won the 5A District I-II individual title and earlier this month did something no Idaho girl has done before. At the Inland Empire Challenge on Oct. 9 in Lewiston, Peters won the varsity girls race in 16:53, becoming the first Idaho girl to ever break 17 minutes for a 5k.

The 5A girls will race at 11 a.m. Friday with the 5A boys to follow at 11:30.

CLASS 4A

The 4A team titles went to eastern Idaho last season, with the Preston boys and Skyline girls claiming banners and blue trophies.

Based on what has happened thus far this season, Preston and Skyline face much competition to defend those titles on Friday. The Blackfoot boys, who repeated as 4A District 6 champions last week, are looking to improve on their third-place finish from last year's state meet. Bishop Kelly, which won last week's 4A District 3 boys title by a 31-point margin, enters state with five of the top 10 4A boys times thus far this season. Sandpoint, last year's fourth place team which added another 4A District I-II title to its collection last week, is also in contention.

The 4A boys individual title is up for grabs upon the graduation of defending champion Shane Gard of Pocatello. Blackfoot's Matt Thomas and Eli Gregory bring the fastest two times this season from 4A into this weekend, running 15:02 and 15:03, respectively, to place first and second at the Inland Empire Challenge. Gregory repeated as 4A District 6 individual champion last week with Thomas placing second. Their teammate Justin Whitehead, Bishop Kelly's Austin Clough and Kevin Corrigan, Preston's Edison Leffler and Twin Falls' Stockton Stevens are all in contention as well.

Skyline claimed the 4A girls title last year by five points over fellow eastern Idaho team Preston. This weekend's title appears to be decided by a single digit margin for the fourth time in five years, and Preston has so far lived up to its preseason prediction of being the team to chase. Preston has placed ahead of Skyline in all three of their meetings this season, and the gap shrunk to seven points at the Bob Conley Invitational earlier this month.

The entire trophy race could be tight. Entering this weekend, Preston has four of the top 20 4A girls times this season, Sandpoint has four of the top 25 and Skyline and Twin Falls each have four in the top 30.

Defending 4A girls individual champion Nelah Roberts of Skyline enters this weekend having won five of her last six meets. The sophomore said she has never competed at Eagle Island before. Her season best 18:10.8 is the fastest 4A girls time thus far this season, as no other 4A girl has broken 18:20. Eight other 4A girls have broken 19 minutes, however. Pocatello's Bailey Bird, Ridgevue's Alexia Corona and Sandpoint's Ara Clark--all of whom are individual district champions who have broken 18:40--will push Roberts for individual gold.

The 4A girls will race at 2 p.m. Friday with the 4A boys to follow at 2:30.

CLASS 3A

Sugar-Salem has dominated this classification, having swept the girls and boys team titles for four consecutive seasons.

The Diggers face arguably their toughest challenge yet this weekend as that streak is put to the test. On the boys side, Fruitland has emerged as Sugar-Salem's biggest threat and enter Saturday having won the 3A District 3 championship. Fruitland and Sugar-Salem each have five runners who have recorded top 25 times in 3A thus far this season. The six-time defending state champion Diggers won the 3A District 6 title with a perfect score last week, led by junior Porter Holt's individual title.

The 3A girls team title could be even more competitive. Following the 3A District 6 championships, Sugar-Salem head coach Brett Hill and South Fremont head coach Ryan Campbell both said 3A District 5 champion Snake River is highly favored this weekend. The Panthers placed second at state last year. Weiser, the 3A District 3 champion is also a title contender. South Fremont, which competed in its first state meet since 2005 last year and placed third, is also in contention this season having split meetings with Sugar-Salem before districts and taking second to the Diggers by six points at districts. There is no record of a South Fremont boys or girls cross country state championship.

"We'd love to bring back a trophy and a banner to our school, not just for us, but for South Fremont," said South Frmont senior and newly crowned 3A District 6 girls individual champion Cecily 'CC' Eagleton after the 3A District 6 championships.

Both 3A individual titles are up for grabs this weekend upon the graduation of defending champions Sophie McManus of McCall-Donnelly and Owen Rogers of Gooding. Coeur d'Alene Charter junior McKenna Kozeluh and Fruitland senior Emma Hillam are the lone 3A girls to break 19 minutes this season. Kozeluh, who did not medal at state last year, won the 3A District I title last week and has broken 19 minutes three times this fall. Hillam, newly crowned 3A District 3 champion who did not qualify for last year's state meet, won the individual state title as a freshman, placed third as a sophomore and has a personal best of 18:08. Eagleton, two-time defending individual state runner-up Jaresa Jackson of Sugar-Salem and Weiser's Kylee Quinton should push Kozeluh and Hillam this weekend.

Snake River's Keegan McCraw brings this season's fastest 3A time into this weekend (16:14.6). Teammate Lincoln High, Coeur d'Alene Charter's Logan Davis and Bonners Ferry's Connor Alexander have also broken 16:30. All four boys ran at state last year. High medaled and Davis was runner-up.

The 3A girls will race at 9 a.m. Saturday followed by the 3A boys at 9:30 a.m.

CLASS 2A

The Salmon boys extended their win streak to three last season while Bear Lake upended a dynasty on the girls side by snapping district rival Soda Springs' all-sport, all-classification record 14-year 2A state title streak.

Salmon will be challenged this weekend as it has been all season. Among its competition is district foe North Fremont, which placed third at state last year and edged Salmon 36-39 to win the 2A District 6 boys title last week. North Fremont currently owns three of the top seven 2A boys times this season while Salmon has three of the top 11.

Also challenging Salmon is Nampa Christian. The Trojans, who won the 2A District 3 boys title by a 29-point margin over Cole Valley Christian last week, also have the fastest time by an Idaho boy for any classification this season thanks to Grady Mylander. A senior, Mylander ran a 14:59 to win the Winston Tilzey Invitational on October 13 to become the second Idaho boy on record to break the 15-minute barrier for a 5k.

Mylander will vie for the individual title with Salmon sophomore Danny Simmons, who took individual state runner-up behind older brother Johnathon Simmons last season. Danny Simmons is the lone runner to beat Mylander thus far this season, doing so at the Tiger-Grizz Invitational on Sept. 10. Mylander and Simmons are the lone 2A boys to have broken 15:20 this season. West Jefferson senior Hyrum Spencer is also an individual title contender, having broken the 16-minute barrier on Sept. 29.

Bear Lake cannot defend its 2A girls team title due to placing fourth of fourth teams last week at a competitive 2A District 5 championship meet where eight points separated second from fourth. Thus far, much of the teams in the mix for the title are from eastern Idaho. With five of the top 20 2A girls times this season, Salmon is in its best position in a while to win a girls state title for the first time since 2002 and for the first time at the 2A level. Salmon, which won the 2A District 6 championships last week 35-74 over Ririe, has placed second or third at state in all but one year since 2013 and all of its runners from districts last week are underclassmen.

Powerhouse Soda Springs and its depth is not to be overlooked either. The Cardinals won the Tiger-Grizz varsity B girls title on Sept. 10 and the 2A District 5 title last week 37-61 over Malad, which is having a historically successful season and is also in trophy contention. Also in the trophy race is Melba, which won the 2A District 3 title last week 36-47 over Cole Valley Christian.

Defending 2A individual champion Jessica Duran of Wendell is back, and she brings the fastest 2A girls time this season into this weekend. While the junior is the lone 2A girl to have broken 19:20 this season, 10 other girls have broken 20 minutes and six of them have broken 19:40. Among runners to challenge Duran will be District 3 champion Cameron Moore of Ambrose, Cole Valley Christian's Keelin Stewart, defending individual state runner-up Elise Kelsey of Bear Lake, Melba's Brooklyn Dayley and West Side's Johanna Ebert.

The 2A girls will race at 3 p.m. Saturday with the 2A boys following at 3:30 p.m.

CLASS 1A

The Raft River girls made history last season by winning a program first state title and having a full cross country team for the first time since 1999. The faces of the program for four years, twin sisters Kaybee and Karlee, moved on to Utah State.

Raft River returns to state having won the 1A District 4 meet and will again be in title contention. Leading the way is sophomore Allie Black, newly crowned 1A District 4 individual champion who placed third at state last year behind Kaybree and Karlee.

Challenging the Trojans for the title this weekend is Logos, which won the 1A District II championship with a perfect score and also boasts the top two times in 1A with sophomore Sara Casebolt and senior Clara Anderson. Logos currently has five of the top 17 1A girls times thus far this season. Victory Charter and Rockland are also in the trophy hunt. Along with Black, Casebolt and Anderson, Challis freshman Taylor Redick, who placed second in the Tiger-Grizz varsity B race, could vie for the individual title. All four of these girls have broken 19:25.

Defending boys champion Victory Charter will have a battle to get a repeat this weekend. Like its girls team, Logos won the 1A District II boys championship with a perfect score. Times wise thus far this season, Logos and Victory Charter are dead even entering this weekend with four runners each in the top 20 fastest 1A times. The top fastest times--and the only sub-16 1A times--belong to Victory Charter's Ian Stockett and Luke Stockett, who went 1-2 at last week's 1A District 3 championships. They will be vying for the individual title, which is up for grabs upon the graduation of defending champion Connor Gardner of Liberty Charter. Expect Liberty Charter and Grace to also be in the trophy hunt.

The 1A girls will race at noon Saturday with the 1A boys following at 12:30 p.m.








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