BONNERS FERRY — On Oct. 18, the Badgers hosted the 3A cross country district race at Bonners Ferry High School.
The 5K course went out onto the section behind the high school called the “Badger Trail” and featured a variety of uphill, downhill, track, pavement, and mostly natural surfaces.
The last time the Badgers hosted districts was in 2012 at Mirror Lake Golf Course. The Intermountain League cross country coaches decide every year who will host the meet, mainly based on a rotation basis.
The Timberlake girls dominated the top nine qualifying positions. The Bonners Ferry girls couldn’t get their top five runners closer together and missed qualifying by only six points. Timberlake had 25 points, Priest River 54, and Bonners Ferry 60.
According to coach Tyler Warner, Madi McIntyre missed qualifying as an individual by only one place. The highlight of the day for the girls, however, was Abby Gorton. In August, on the same course, Gorton ran away from the field for a dominating first place finish and followed up with a similar performance on Thursday for the individual IML girls champion. It is the second year in a row that a Bonners Ferry runner has been the girls district champion.
Gorton led the race pretty much from the start. An early upset attempt by Annika Rantala from Priest River fell short, as after less than a mile Rantala could not keep up with the pace set by Gorton. She was 36 seconds faster than in August, and beat second place by 40 seconds.
The early favorite to win the boys race was Cameron Parks from Priest River, but it was just not meant to be. Somewhere around the second mile, Logan Hunt from Timberlake emerged to take the lead. Hot on the heels of Parks was Bonners Ferry’s Hunter Smith in a gritty performance. Smith knew if his team wanted to have a chance to beat Priest River he would have to have a big day. He worked his way through the pack to secure third place, which was critical for Bonners Ferry’s hopes at upsetting Priest River. Conner Alexander would secure the second set of points for Bonners Ferry at twelfth place, the final individual qualifying position. Senior captain Samuel Gorton finished right behind Alexander at thirteenth, just missing the podium. Ty Grigg and Austin Donn rounded out the scoring members of Bonners Ferry’s team. In the end, like the girls, their upset bid came up just short.
Timberlake won the boys team championship with 39 points. Priest River was second (50 points), Bonners Ferry third (57), Coeur d’Alene Charter fourth (94) and Kellogg fifth (113).
Third place did secure a trip to state for the Badgers. Timberlake, Priest River and Bonners Ferry all came into the race ranked in the top five in Idaho 3A, placing third, fourth, and fifth respectively, according to fastest times recorded on Athletic.net, and all three will represent the IML at State.
State will be held on Saturday, Oct. 27, at Lewiston Orchards in Lewiston, Idaho. The Badgers ran the course earlier in the season and posted some of their fastest times of the season. Abby Gorton did not run at that meet due to injury, but did travel and is familiar with the course. Hunter Smith comes into state ranked in the top 20 based on his time at Kellogg and Abby Gorton comes in ranked third based on her time also at Kellogg. Timberlake girls will be the favorite to win the girls state championship while the Timberlake boys are projected to finish in the top three, Warner said. Abby will race at 10 a.m. and the boys will race at about 11:45 a.m.
“As district host, it fell to me to organize the meet,” said Warner. “I could not, however, have done this without the support of many people. My assistant Catherine DelSalle and BFHS Athletics Director, Conrad Garner get my first thanks, first and foremost, for their support and great contributions of time and labor to developing this course. Thanks to my mentor, colleague, and friend Paul Bonnell for running the finish line.
“Finally, I want to thank all of my volunteers and parents, with special thanks to: finish line warriors (Didier Balcaen and Louis Balcaen and Kennon ‘Gator’ McClintock and Dave “Coop” Braden), Ellen Smith, Melinda and David Brinkman, Steve Ussher, Josh Sherven, Anne Onstott, Mary and Steve Gorton, Anne and Steve Donn, Mike Cowley for getting the scoreboard clock, Ada Bonnell, Scott Bourassa, Priest River Athletics Director, Matt George, Priest River teacher and coach Jared Hughes for the sound system, and my team for their cooperation in setting up the course and quickly taking it down afterwards.”