BONNERS FERRY — The Badgers cross country teams ran a fairly flat 5K course at Priest River High School on Sept. 20. There was a medium sized hill and a rough field section, as well.
“Times were not stellar, but we did have a handful of individual successes,” said coach Tyler Warner. “I’d say illnesses, a couple of absences, and some lingering injuries prevented us from bringing home any team hardware.”
The other teams present for the meet were Immaculate Conception Academy, Lakeland, Kellogg, Priest River, and Kootenai.
With a total of two races, one boys, one girls, the meet went quickly.
Despite not running a season best time, Abby Gorton led the way for the girls race and was the first overall finisher, beating the second place runner by 48 seconds.
In seventh place was Camille Ussher followed closely by Madi McIntyre in eighth place, both running personal bests. Emily Gorino also finished with a personal best in tenth place, followed by teammate Serenity Fahey with the time of 25:05.
Bonners Ferry was third out of three complete teams, but the difference between the first and third place teams was three points. First-place Lakeland scored 40 points, Priest River 41, and Bonners Ferry scored 43.
Samuel Gorton ran a season-best 18:30 to finish overall in the boys race. Conner Alexander also earned a top 10 recognition with a ninth-place finish.
“Unfortunately the Badgers could not compete with a fast pace set by ICA’s Christian Kuplack who won the race in 16:56,” said Warner. “His performance spurred ICA to a second place finish while Priest River was led by Cameron Parks and Caleb Gleason, two early favorites for possible district champions, and earned the overall team win.”
With the weather going from smoky to cold quickly, the teams have had absences, illnesses, and minor injury setbacks this season, but continue to run strong.
“We were without Hunter Smith this week, which hampered us a bit,” said Warner. “He’s led the way most of the season, but Sam stepped up fro a season best and the rest of the team really tried hard despite having lingering issues and illnesses. It may take a couple of weeks for us to get back to full strength.”
On Saturday the Badgers cross country teams ran at the ninth William Johnson Sandpoint Invitational, a race named in memory of former Sandpoint High School runner, William Johnson, who was killed in a ski accident on Schweitzer. The races took place at Travers Park, featuring three approximately one-mile loops, and was almost entirely on pavement.
According to Warner, the track was very flat. A brisk wind picked up in the morning and created strong crosswinds and headwinds for most of the race. In spite of this, many Badger athletes obtained personal records (PRs).
Kicking off the meet was the junior varsity girls. Lauren Onstott led the way for the Bonners Ferry girls race, running a personal best of 25:38. Sophomore Jenna Brooks ran her first race for Bonners Ferry and was the third JV runner, finishing in 26:10. Other notable performances for the race include freshmen Liliana Brinkman, who ran a 28:19, and Elizabeth Bourassa, who finished in 28:32, both for PR’s. Stormy Fahey also continues to drop time off of her season, finishing in 29:30. Erin Dineen, who shaved off nearly 15 minutes off of last years times, continued to improve and ran a personal best 30:35. The girls finished third out of three JV teams.
The second race was boys junior varsity. Hunter Smith, who had been Bonners Ferry’s best runner so far this season, missed last week’s meet due to a family wedding.
“We try to emphasize that everyone on the team is subject to the same rules and expectations and Hunter understood that he would have to earn his spot back,” said Warner. “We really appreciate his willingness to go through the process, and he ran a good race as a result.”
According to Warner, this meet gave Smith an opportunity to run at the front of the race and practice some strategy as a lead runner. Three Sandpoint runners ran close behind him most of the way and Smith tried to let them lead a couple of times to use them as windbreaks. The four runners stayed in a tight pack until the last 200m when each runner started to make their move. Hunter fell behind to fourth momentarily, before rallying to secure second place with a season-best time of 18:04.
All the other runners on boys JV ran career bests, including Justin Mendenhall and Conner Strickert who ran together for most of the race. The JV boys finished fourth out of five teams.
Girls varsity was the third high school race. Camille Ussher and Emily Gorino ran together for the entirety of the race, running personal best times of 22:44 and 22:45 respectively.
The highlight of the race was Abigail Gorton as she continued her strong season. In a strong headwind, Gorton ran stride for stride with Angelyca Chapman from Lake City HS. The two runners told each other how much they wanted to puke and keeping a friendly, supportive dialogue at times throughout the race. Chapman would end up pulling away from Gorton in the last 200m to secure first place and a time of 19:45. Gorton, however, still managed to hold on for a time of 19:50 and second place. Third place did not finish until 20:31. Gorton’s 19:50 is a personal best for her and is the second time in two years that a BFHS girls runner has broken the 20 minute barrier.
Last year, BFHS senior Jordan Young ran under 20 minutes at Lewiston and again at Districts. Young is now the leading cross country girls runner at the University of Providence in Great Falls, Mont. Abby’s time is currently the third fastest time in Idaho 3A.
Boys varsity finished off the day, with senior Sam Gorton leading the way with the fastest time for Bonners Ferry this season with an impressive 17:59 PR. Freshman Conner Alexander continued his strong campaign with an 18:30 and Junior Austin Donn ran a season best. With illness and injury, and Hunter Smith running JV, the boys finished fifth out of six complete teams.
“As our season winds down we have two very fast meets before districts. This Saturday we head to Lewiston for the Inland Empire Challenge,” said Warner. “Historically, this has been a fast course for the teams, with this year featuring 40 teams that have registered so far.”
Next week the Badgers will be in Kellogg for the Ben Castro Invitational, which is at the Pinehurst Golf Course.
“Both meets have been fast and last year Jordan Young ran under 20 minutes for both, so Abby should have a strong opportunity to race well,” said Warner. “Hunter and Sam will likely be pushing each other hard. This is where our season really culminates and kids start putting pieces together.”
Keep an eye out on www.bfbadgers.com for scheduling. Complete results can be found at https://bit.ly/2RjlJTt