THE FRONT ROW WITH JASON ELLIOTT: The race to avoid those setbacks

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When you think of cross country running, you think hills, trails and any kind of conditions that will challenge a runner during that 3.1-mile course.

Just a few years ago, when the state cross country meet was held at Farragut State Park in 2015, the biggest challenge might have been beating the daylight.

Heavy rain caused a malfunction with the finish line camera, which delayed races 45 minutes, with the final boys race starting at 4:30 p.m. that day.

Not exactly a spectator friendly day.

THIS YEAR, when the state cross country meets are held — on Nov. 2 — they’ll be at the Portneuf Wellness Complex in Pocatello, a place area coaches have said is very spectator friendly for those making the trip.

It will be the second time state has been held at the location, after the Idaho High School Activities Association adopted three permanent locations for state meets. The 2020 meet will be on Oct. 31 at Eagle Island State Park, with the 2021 meet at the Lewiston Orchards course, where last year’s meet was held.

The Portneuf course is loaded with grassy terrain, according to area coaches.

“I’d be surprised if a bunch of teams aren’t going to be competing on grass (in training and in meets during the season, in preparation for state),” Timberlake coach Shawn Lawler said. “We’re going to be trying to run on grass surfaces. With the state moving to three permanent locations for state, we try to model our workouts around what to expect at state in our workouts.”

“We’ll try to keep them on grass as much as we can,” Post Falls coach Brian Trefry said. “It keeps us more healthy and there’s not as much strain on their legs running on grass. I look at our season, and we start out with a lot more trails, then go to Shadle where there’s more grass. At a point, you’ve just got to take what’s near you.”

As for Thursday’s season-opening Post Falls River Run at Kiwanis Park, Post Falls, paced by Samantha Wood in 17 minutes, 4.1 seconds, had the top three finishers on the way to winning the girls team title. Sandpoint’s boys ran away with the boys team title.

There’s a long way to go in the season, with most area teams — and a few from the Boise area — traveling to the Timberlake Invitational on Sept. 7 at Farragut State Park in Athol.

IT REMAINS to be seen just how good this Seattle Seahawk team really is right now.

L.J. Collier hasn’t done much, and neither has D.K. Metcalf, two guys that are really, really important to whether the team advances to the playoffs again this year or not.

Mike Iupati, an Idaho product, hasn’t done much either and there’s some concern that he may not be ready when the season opens next Sunday against Cincinnati.

They paid Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner a ton of money during the offseason to make sure this team keeps on a path toward the playoffs, That is, as long as they are able to avoid injuries to themselves.

Which could end up being the biggest concern of them all.

Jason Elliott is a sports writer for the Coeur d’Alene Press. He can be reached by telephone at (208) 664-8176, Ext. 2020 or via email at jelliott@cdapress.com. Follow him on Twitter @JECdAPress.

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