Cross country season is entering its final weeks and the busiest weekend for the Badgers occurred last weekend. They started Thursday with the speedy, flat course at Pinehurst Golf Course hosted by Kellogg. The natural surfaces with minimal hills made for great times and many PRs (Personal Records) and SRs (Season Records).
On Oct. 5, the Badgers took to Kenny Mendenhall Stadium for the Bonners Ferry Invite. The course started in the stadium and made its way around the baseball field before exiting the track into the hills and fields behind the high school. The course has a curious effect of having some major uphill sections, but a significant portion of the course ends up being downhill, creating further opportunities for fast times.
Abby Gorton was the overall winner of both the Kellogg and Bonners Ferry invites, running a season-best 19:38 at Kellogg and a 20:03 at Bonners Ferry. Hunter Smith led the way for the Badgers in both races, getting outdueled again by Logan Hunt of Coeur d’Alene Charter at Kellogg, but Smith outpaced the competition at his home course, finishing in 17:57.
Connor Alexander bounced back from a couple of rough weeks to have great days. He finished third at Kellogg and second at Bonners Ferry, running 17:47 and 18:27 respectively. Freshman Taylor DeFalco also came up huge this weekend, particularly at the home invite. At Kellogg, Taylor was 12th with an 18:35, but at Bonners Ferry he was third overall with a time of 18:38.
Other notable performances included Austin Donn at Bonners Ferry, taking the key fourth place spot passing Levi White of Kellogg in the last half mile to help secure important team points. Levi Bonnell was ultimately the decider, also catching a Kellogg runner in the waning minutes of the race to beat another Kellogg runner and securing the Badgers’ victory at home.
In the girls’ races Ceci Roemer, a freshman, continues to hold steady as the second scoring Lady Badger, finishing eighth overall at Kellogg with a PR of 21:51 and followed it up with a fifth place run and a time of 22:43 at the home meet. Emily Gorino and Jenna Brooks also continued to make major strides, finding their hill legs at Bonners Ferry with Gorino grinding in at 24:00 and Brooks at 24:34.
Emmett Melior, a junior and brand new runner, has made major improvements this season and ran a 30:28 at Bonners Ferry. Emmet has the goal of running under 30 minutes for 5k this year. Smith and Alexander both credited Melior with giving them some mid-race motivation.
In team scoring, the Badger boys finished second at Kellogg, losing to Immaculate Conception Academy from Post Falls, but beating 4A Lakeland and IML foes Priest River and Kellogg, while the girls brought home the championship trophy. At the home invite the boys were bolstered by scoring places 1-3 as well as the gritty performances of Bonnell and Donn to get their first season win. The girls also backed up Abby Gorton’s course record win with Roemer and Camille Ussher breaking up the Priest River pack. With Gorino and Brooks scoring the sixth and seventh points in the race right behind Ussher, the girls also claimed a victory over Priest River. The Kellogg girls did not have five runners finish and were ineligible for scoring. The two wins at home also gave the Badger cross country teams the rare opportunity to ring the victory bell at Kenny Mendenhall Stadium.
The Badgers are riding a hot streak of top two finishes going back to Priest River and Coeur d’Alene heading into the final regular meet of the season at Sandpoint. The races between Priest River and Kellogg, however, have been tight. The Kellogg boys have come up big this season, riding a wave of experience and challenging Bonners Ferry’s boys squad. The Priest River girls beat Bonners Ferry by one point at their home meet, but the Lady Badgers fought back the last couple of weeks to string together big wins.
Districts will likely come down to who is healthiest and who wants it more.
The Badgers next race at the William Johnson Sandpoint Invitational in Travers Park. Races begin at 9 a.m. Saturday.
Complete Results for Kellogg: www.athletic.net/CrossCountry/meet/157928/results
Complete Results for Bonners Ferry Invite: www.athletic.net/CrossCountry/meet/157291/results