THE FRONT ROW WITH JASON ELLIOTT: Some steps in the right direction

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It had been a while since schools from the north had made an impact in the state high school cross country championships to the level of what happened last Saturday in Pocatello.

A state champion (Timberlake senior Logan Hunt in 3A boys), a runner-up (Post Falls senior Sydney Shanahan) and girls teams from Timberlake (second in 3A) and Post Falls (fourth in 5A) claiming team trophies.

Who knows, maybe that team title drought might be coming to an end shortly.

OF THE girls team that Timberlake sent to state, none are seniors.

“We’re very excited about the future right now,” said Timberlake coach Shawn Lawler, who coached the Tigers to girls titles in 2009, 2010 and 2011. “We were a little concerned we might not get onto the podium this year, but the girls ran really well.”

This was the second straight year Timberlake had finished runner-up in 3A. Sugar-Salem won the state title last weekend, the program’s third straight title. Timberlake’s boys missed out on placing fourth by three points.

“It was a great day, and the course conditions were phenomenal,” Lawler said. “It really was a fast surface and good for the kids to run on.”

The last state 5A boys champion was Coeur d’Alene in 2011. The Viking girls won three straight titles from 2012 to 2014.

Prior to Hunt, the last local individual champion was Landon Chang of Coeur d’Alene Charter in 2016 (3A).

Post Falls, which edged Coeur d’Alene by nine points at the regional meet on Oct. 24 at Farragut State Park, will return four of seven boys runners next year.

“The key for the boys was continual improvement as the season progressed,” Post Falls coach Brian Trefry said. “They had an ability to run as a strong pack who pulled each other along.”

For the Trojan girls, Shanahan and her twin sister, Bailey, were the lone seniors.

Often times, right after state meets, coaches talk about the kids putting in the work to try not to get left out again. Next year’s meet will be held at Eagle Island State Park.

AT THIS point in the fall, some baseball teams are putting themselves into a position to maybe land a big free agent to get a step closer to the playoffs.

Mariner fans, you might be waiting a bit longer.

No, Seattle likely won’t be in the market for pitchers like Madison Bumgarner or Stephen Strasburg, guys that might be able to flip the luck of a franchise just with their arrival.

The Mariners probably won’t be trying to get another standout home run hitter like Nelson Cruz was before leaving for Minnesota, or Robinson Cano at second base.

And that might be just fine and dandy.

Don’t forget, Mitch Haniger was injured after June 6 due to injury. Haniger had 15 home runs and 32 runs batted in when his season ended.

Get him back, along with some growth from other returning starters, the Mariners could be headed in the right direction.

Besides, it can’t get much worse, can it?

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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