The course was the primary antagonist. At the inaugural Scout Mountain Invitational in the mountains south of Pocatello, Teton harriers (cross country runners) met an exceptional challenge for their opening contest of the 2019 season. Probably the only concession was that the course was short at 4,700 meters. Over its entire distance, nary a flat spot; always up and up or down--fast.
The sage and scrub desert slopes were supremely hot and exposed. Athletes were in their second mile before they found any shade and that was only fleeting as the winding loops--that are used as a nordic ski venue in winter--casually tossed them through hairpin turns over and over until they were likely to forgot where they were.
The footing was always rugged, enough so that coaches feared twisted ankles. Yet 117 women survived the day to the finish. 180 men did so, as well. Teton was matched against a field of eight large schools and Soda Springs, the only other school besides Teton from a rural community.
At this juncture, several Teton harriers had not enough practices to match wits with the course.
For those eight women who toed the line, Coach Mindy Kaufman had counseled that a fast start could be self-destructive as the course climbed 200 vertical feet in the opening 1,500 meters. Sophomore Sara Bagley was in the vanguard of her team from start to finish.
Freshmen Jenna Letham and Lindsey Simmons courageously transitioned from shorter middle school races. Coach Kaufman will challenge the women to run in a tighter pack in their next race.
Teton put 16 men on the line Friday, four of whom were freshmen racing at the longer high school distance. Only a minute, eight seconds separated the top five and three more men came in 11 seconds later.
Coach Caleb Moosman was pleased with the cluster of lads competing for varsity slots. Junior Lance Safiran led the team to the line pursued closely by junior James Allen. Allen had commented going into the meet that everyone on the team “...works really well together.”
Last week, the team leaders instructed the underclassmen on the benefits of calling out to teammates in a race. Results indicate the lesson is sticking. Freshman Sam Machen finished in the coveted 7th spot, only 2 seconds behind junior Brennen Bates, and only 10 seconds behind his older brother, sophomore Noah Bates.
The next test is Saturday, September 7th at Kelly Park in Soda Springs. The course is hilly with a rich history of fast racing over the years. In 2010, Teton men won the state championship at Kelley Park. Teton’s second man and second overall that year was sophomore Caleb Moosman, now Coach Moosman.
The new coaches have already made a strong impression with the harriers. Organized workouts, clear communication, and coordination between the men’s and women’s coaches are some of the early hallmarks of changes in a program that emphasizes team unity, academic excellence and self-improvement. Sara Bagley endorsed both young coaches. “They can run with us a lot and they have new insights.”
Teton times from Scout Mt. CC Meet:
Sara Bagley 21:19, Jenna Letham 24:00, Olivia Schnell 25:45, Amelia Wilson 26:38, Ripley Schultz 29:45, Liza Marcum 31:31, Macey Robert 37:26, Lindsay Simmons 45:20; Lance Safiran 18:48, James Allen 18:56, Jack Dobbs 19:50, Finn Adams 19:51, Noah Machen 19:56, Brennen Bates 20:04, Sam Machen 20:06, Seth Jensen 20:07, CG Woiwode 20:17, Ty Terry 20:22, John Woiwode 21:11, Gavin Behrens 20;21, Ben Adams 20:39, Cameron Edwards 20:41, Jacob Allen 27:05, Oliver McKellar 28:28