The preparation work is now done.
All that’s left for area cross country teams is to make the eight hour trip — 525 miles if you’re counting — to Pocatello as the state cross country meet unfolds Saturday at the Portneuf Wellness Center in all classifications.
Most teams from North Idaho left Thursday to order to break up the trip on the bus.
“We’ll get a workout in somewhere along the way in Montana,” Coeur d’Alene coach Cathy Compton said. “I think it’s better to break it up a little bit. I don’t think it’s good to be on a bus for that long. I think everyone else is going down two days early, but staying in different towns. Breaking up the trip really helps a lot.”
Post Falls also departed a few days early.
“It’s a trip, but we’ve done it before,” Post Falls coach Brian Trefry said. “And we’ll do it again.”
Post Falls qualified both its girls and boys teams to state for the first time since 2005. The girls claimed a third straight 5A Region 1 title on Oct. 24 at Farragut State Park in Athol. The Trojan boys were runner-up to Lewiston to advance.
“Really, our top five girls all ran really well,” Trefry said. “It was a really good day for them. They were relaxed and came out and did what they needed to do. They weren’t super nervous, which was nice. A lot of them had been here before and know what they need to do. I had a good feeling coming into today.”
Coeur d’Alene qualified its girls team to state after finishing runner-up to Post Falls.
“I’m excited,” Compton said last week. “We’ve got some work to do yet. We’ve got another week to condition them some more, and the ones with owies can get some rest. We’ll go down and give it a good fight.”
Mountain View and Boise are a few that will challenge for the state girls title. But Compton believes a north team could find a way to the podium as well.
“Mountain View, Boise, they’re on fire right now,” Compton said. “But Post Falls is on fire right now. I’m rooting for Post Falls, I can tell you that right now. I’m all for the north. I don’t think we’ll get there this year, but I’ve got no girls graduating this year, so I’m excited about that right now.”
Lake City senior Carter Gordon qualified after finishing third at regionals.
“He’s a super strong runner and has a little more in him,” Lake City coach Heather Harmon-Reed said. “Not that he held back today (at regionals), or anything like that. He just keeps chugging along. He’s so versatile being able to run anything from a 200 (-meter dash) to a 5K. If he choses to run in college, I’m sure he’ll be good in the 10K.”
Gordon was in contention to qualify as a freshman, but a mishap at regionals kept him from state.
“The last time it was in Pocatello (2016), Carter would have qualified, but ended up throwing up on the course and didn’t finish in the top 10,” Harmon-Reed said. “I haven’t been to the new course (in Pocatello). It’s beneficial to know the course, and we’ll go over it before the race, so I don’t think it will be a detriment not knowing. No matter what, course conditions change. If it’s muddy in a certain spot, or something like that, we’ll have an idea before the race.”
Lake City sophomore Maximillan Bazler, and juniors Braden Dance and Ethan Garner of Coeur d’Alene qualified individually in the boys race for state after finishing in the top 10. Lake City sophomore Clara Stephens and junior Angelyca Chapman also advanced to state.
Trefry added that he’s put his team through a few different workouts to prepare for the state setting.
“We’ve ran a lot on grass and similar surfaces that we’ll see in Pocatello,” Trefry said. “We went up to Schweitzer (Mountain Resort in Sandpoint) and ran up there to get used to the elevation that we’ll run at state. We’ve done a lot of grass running. The course in Pocatello is a relatively flat course, and not too technical. The biggest thing we’ve done is go to Schweitzer and told them, ‘here’s what 4,400 feet feels like.’ And it feels different, but I think they’ll be more prepared because of that.”
Boise and Mountain View senior Lexy Halladay are defending champions in the girls races.
Borah junior Nathan Green is the defending boys champ, and Rocky Mountain goes for its fourth straight boys team title.
Sandpoint’s boys and girls won regional titles on Oct. 24 at Farragut State Park in Athol.
Idaho Falls’ boys are trying for a third straight boys team title. Bishop Kelly won the girls title last year. Sandpoint won back-to-back titles in 2013 and 2014.
Senior Mattalyn Goddes of Twin Falls was girls medalist for a second straight year in 2018.
Lakeland freshman Kailani Gilbert, who finished seventh in the girls race at regionals, was the lone local qualifier in 4A.
Timberlake coach Shawn Lawler has been on top of the podium with his girls team a few different times since starting the program 16 years ago.
This year, if everything goes right, the Tigers could have a breakthrough on the boys side as well.
Timberlake senior Logan Hunt holds the fastest time in the state at 15 minutes, 52.28 seconds. He’s followed by Lorenzo High of Snake River (16:08.7).
“I think we’ve got an opportunity to be on both sides on the podium,” said Lawler, who coached Timberlake to state girls titles in 2009, ’10 and ’11. “That’s certainly the goal for both teams, but we haven’t had that conversation yet. But we will. The girls’ strength is more to the pack mentality. We have those girls, where if we can keep them with 30 to 40 seconds from each other, we’ve got a shot. With our boys, if we can keep our (second through sixth runner) together — because Logan is going to do his own thing. If we can keep the pack times really tight, we’ve got a chance.
“This group is pretty young still,” Lawler added. “If we develop a front runner in the girls, that could be the difference to where we were seven or eight years ago. We’ve qualified all 16 years on the boys side and it’s exciting to say that of those 32 opportunities, we’ve qualified in 31 of those. But you’ve got to have the kids, the parents, my wife (Stacie) at the middle school level and my assistant coach Molly Miller. You’ve got to have all those people around you. You’ve got to have that community of people around you. It’s really neat to be a part of it.”
Sugar-Salem has won the last four boys team titles and last two on the girls side. Sophomore Emma Hillam of Fruitland is the defending girls champ.
Other local individuals qualifying include Coeur d’Alene Charter sophomore Logan Davis and senior Josie Yovichin.
Soda Springs has captured 13 straight 2A girls team championships. Salmon ended Soda Springs’ run of five straight boys titles in 2018.
No locals qualified for state.
Liberty Charter won its second straight boys title in 2018. Oakley won the girls title.
STATE CROSS COUNTRY
At Portneuf Wellness Center, Pocatello
RACES: 5A girls, 9 a.m.; 2A girls, 9:30; 3A girls, 10:15; 5A boys, 10:45; 2A boys, 11:15; 3A boys, 11:45; 1A girls, 12:15 p.m.; 4A girls, 1; 1A boys, 1:30; 4A boys, 2.