Clear skies, strong turnout boosts runners

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(Courtesy Photo) The Badger cross country team has already held an off the record fundraiser meet.

BONNERS FERRY — The 2019 cross-country team has brought its best foot forward with not having to delay practices due to smoky, poor air quality.

“We’ve got a lot of great kids out this year,” said Coach Tyler Warner. “We benefit from having had a young team last season — and so this year we look to reap what we’d sown.”

The boys team is looking solid with the return of four members from last year’s varsity squad.

“Sophomore Connor Alexander and senior Hunter Smith should be the front runners for us, followed by senior Austin Donn and sophomore Levi Bonnell,” said Warner.

There are also some additions to the boys team, including sophomore Brady Hinthorn, who was a district cross country champion in middle school.

“Freshman Taylor DeFalco also appears to be a promising contender for a varsity spot,” said Warner. “I’d expect the boys to be a very competitive team with the additions of Hinthorn and DeFalco.”

Senior Abby Gorton finished fifth at the state 3A meet last cross country season, and then in the spring was the state champion in the 3200 and the 1600, setting new school records in all three races.

“Gorton has a lot of good things going for her,” said Warner.

Gorton will be supported by the return of sophomore Camille Ussher and junior Madi McIntyre.

“Both girls have set high goals for themselves,” said Warner. “The ladies will also be joined by promising freshman Ceci Roemer, who is off to a good early start. Serenity Fahey and Lauren Onstott also look to build off of last year and should be contributing team members.”

The team leaders this year are Austin Donn, Abby Gorton and Serenity Fahey, with the three of them bringing very different leadership skills to the whole team.

“Austin is a can-do sort of guy who is always looking out for others and definitely is a team-first sort of athlete,” said Warner. “Abby leads by example and enjoys helping others improve their running and pushing their pace, she greatly helps the coaches as well.”

Winning takes teamwork, and everyone pitches in, whether it be holding back to encourage a teammate or pushing ahead in order to challenge them.

“Serenity is sort of the nurturing figure on our team, she keeps everyone in high spirits and is always willing to hang back with somebody and talk them through what is going on,” said Warner. “Elisa Balcaen is also our team manager, who helps keep quality control, greatly assists the coaches, and also looks out for those who might have injuries and doesn’t let them become too hard on themselves. She’s been a great asset since she’s joined.”

Warner looks toward Levi Bonnell as a potential future leader for this team.

“He is very thoughtful, but vocal, never leaves a person behind, and doesn’t let anyone settle for less than their best at that moment in time,” said Warner. “Even last year as a freshman I saw Levi encouraging runners to keep up with him so that they could become better too.”

One major change that the team will be making this year is the addition of neon orange running shirts. The community may see the team running on the roads or on trails this season sporting neon orange for visibility.

“We as coaches felt we could improve the safety of our runners in this way, not only on the roads, but when we do trail runs especially around late September and October,” said Warner.

According to Warner, Timberlake is always competitive for both girls and boys with Priest River looking to be in a rebuilding year for the boys side, which improves the team’s chances greatly.

“My goal for the team this year is to make sure that every single person runs some kind of personal best time, improves throughout the season, is safe, and has fun,” said Warner. “I also have the overall team goal of getting at least one (preferably both) teams to state this year.”

The team is planning on having a fundraiser car wash and bake sale from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30, at the south end of Boundary County Middle School. All proceeds will go toward helping the team purchase the neon orange shirts, uniforms, and help offset travel expenses.

Saturday, Oct. 5, will be the home invite, with races starting around 9 a.m. It will be located at Bonners Ferry High School starting at the Kenny Mendenhall Stadium.

“It is a spectator friendly course and is free for anyone who wants to watch,” said Warner.

For schedule information, visit and keep an eye out for the Bonners Ferry Herald’s fall sports poster.

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