ATHOL — The Bonners Ferry Cross Country team returned to Farragut State Park for the District I 3A Championships to determine qualifiers for state. The familiar 5K course had been packed down by rains and earlier runs by 4A and 5A races held at the same venue.
Timberlake was the presumptive favorites in both races, but the races for second and third would be tight. With Priest River Girls and Bonners Ferry Girls going back and forth all season and the Kellogg, Charter, and Priest River boys all surging late in the year the contests were close. In particular, the Bonners Ferry boys had the potential to either finish as high as second and as low as fifth in the district.
The girls started the day at 3 p.m. as the sun began to dip down and the clouds parted just long enough to give the runners some more daylight.
Veteran Abby Gorton experienced a mild nagging in her hip that quickly turned into a major problem early in the race. In spite of stabbing pain requiring medical attention Gorton gritted her way to a third place finish to secure her fourth consecutive trip to state. Coaches are monitoring her status and hope she will be ready to run by Saturday.
Ceci Roemer, however, punched her first trip to state by finishing 11th overall, which counts as an individual qualification. Emily Gorino and Camille Ussher pushed each other to finish in 23:36 and 23:38 respectively. Jenna Brooks rounded out Bonners Ferry scorers in 24:20 while Serenity Fahey and Lauren Onstott brought in the tie-breaker spots at 26:04 and 26:31 respectively.
The boys ran next with Hunter Smith leading a strong charge from the Badgers, all trying to make up ground for the loss of Connor Alexander to injury earlier in the season. Hunter ran with determination to drag his teammates with him to state, finishing third with a time of 17:49, only seven seconds behind second place Logan Hunt, who has dueled with Hunter all season.
Taylor DeFalco, also a freshman, threw down an 18:51 PR to secure his trip to state with a sixth place finish. Levi Bonnell was next for the Badgers, finishing 18th with a PR of 19:35. Austin Donn and Brady Hinthorn were next, finishing in 20:59 and 21:14 respectively. Justin Mendenhall and Matt Donn represented the tie-breaking places coming in at 22:15 and 22:36.
In team scoring, the Lady Badgers finished second, beating Priest River by one point and securing their third trip to state in four years.
In the men’s scores, Bonners Ferry tied with Kellogg for second with 74 points, but the decisive tie breaker places put Kellogg just ahead of Bonners Ferry. The Bonners Ferry finished third, but with five complete teams, top three go to state. This is also the third state qualification for the men in four years. In the last six years Bonners Ferry Cross Country has sent at least one full team to state every season.
Bonners Ferry will be competing this weekend in Pocatello at the Port Neuf Sports Complex. Girls will race at approximately 9 a.m. with the boys racing at approximately noon MDT.