Academic State Champs

The women harriers of Teton Cross Country are the 3A Academic State Champions for the seventh time. Teton’s average this year was 3.959 which was the third highest number among all fall sports in all classifications and both genders. The boys’ team won the honor last year for their first time.

With the District meet on the horizon, Teton harriers raced their last regular season invitational at Firth High School last Wednesday. Time is nearly up for gaining skills or positioning one for a shot on the varsity squad.

In Cross Country, all races are dress rehearsals for the championship races. The record books are all determined by what goes down at District and State. There are individual honors to be earned, yes. But the titles with real gravitas are those earned by a team. It is now the season of the big hunt and the Lobos are stalking their prey.

In a final dust-up before the District tournament at the Rexburg Municipal Golf Course, scheduled for the day of this publication, the Wolf packs are circling. Both the men’s and women’s teams are well positioned to qualify for state.

Firth hosted a very fast course--flat with a significant stretch on pavement. Times alone were not directly comparable to other courses but there were clear indications that Teton is preparing for a strong finale.

Stars are aligning

The men are in a good position to race to a state qualifying slot without blowing any fuses. This allows them to race with less stress and keep an eye on the state tournament on the eve of Halloween.

The guys have a shot at upsetting Snake River and standing on the State podium. Teton has 7 who could reliably race under 19 minutes and 11 who could go under 20. These numbers match a strong Snake River squad which pulls a lot of its scoring from its fleet top 3.

Senior James Allen, the only male Lobo with a state medal, sat out the Firth event to allow his shins to strengthen for the next two contests.

In the early kilometers, CG Woiwode tested an aggressive start. A lesson was learned when sinew softened but Lance Safiran strided forward to fill the gap. Lance has been developing his second half all season and his move helped the team and recalibrated his confidence in the last 2000 meters.

Finishing only 10 seconds behind CG was his brother, John who plugged a gap that has been a team vulnerability since the beginning of the season. John’s 2 best times, ever have been logged in the last two weeks. This honing could not come at a better time.

Brennen Bates raced to fifth place in the JV event with an 18:35 which puts him 23 seconds behind John Woiwode. His fresh PR is 7 seconds per mile faster than his previous best. Another set of notable finishes saw Noah Machen, Ty Terry, Gavin Behrens and Ben Adams all finish within 16 seconds of each other.

Young, Gideon Wilson broke 20’ to provoke a cheer of support from his teammates.

Impending conflict for the women’s pack

A great battle is brewing with the South Fremont Cougars coming on late in the season. Sugar seems sure to qualify but must keep some of its powder dry for the state meet where they are facing a showdown with Snake River. The second Mountain River Conference representative will have to be won on the fields.

South Fremont is feeling jubilant having matched Teton’s score at Firth but depth tipped the balance in our favor. Ties are broken by each team’s 6th runner. There are only 5 Cougars who can compete with our top harriers.

Teton is preparing a race strategy that will preclude such a close finish at District. Sophomore, Jenna Letham was sidelined to heal from injury. And there are an abundance of strong athletes who raced in the JV event to prepare for the District showdown.

With a wealth of second tier athletes vying for positions on the State team, Teton’s strength from fourth through 7th positions may solidify the team’s status, statewide. To our advantage the district race puts all athletes on the line together which favors our depth. Teton has 11 athletes with times under 25 minutes. Sugar is the only other 3A school in Idaho that has more depth.

In the two women’s races success piled on top of success as those who toed the line found their way to great times and stronger Wolfpacks.

Junior Liza Marcum had a season best time by 50 seconds. Sophomore Addie Hansen dove below her 5k PR--run in 2019--by 61 seconds; that’s a 19” per mile improvement.

Addie had been pacing with Falena Hertz but when she crossed the line, Falena was not in sight. Falena ran her own remarkable Odyssey. Six days earlier, Falena had raced out of her mind. Seeming to be still high from that race she set another aggressive pace for herself. Then she was gone.

Falena missed a turn, went off course and ran an extra--200… 300 meters before finding her way back. Falena somehow kept her eye on the prize and powered through the finish in 27:21, yet another 26” faster than her freshly minted PR.

Novice sophomore, Catherine Torres took 45” off her best. She is learning the game so rapidly that in six of her 7 races, she has shredded her own records.

Kalia Moncur also discovers new limits each week. Developing a racing savvy has allowed her to cut time at 4 of the five races she’s run. This week, it was another inspired performance that saw her remove 55 seconds from her best. She is racing 8’ faster than she was five weeks ago.

Freshman Taylor Amey shaved eighty seconds off her best from the week before. that’s 25” per mile faster. These quick studies are bringing depth to the cross team that has perhaps never been matched in Teton Valley. There are eleven women on the team that have gone under 25 minutes.

Was there ever another Autumn with such richness in the ranks? Only one of those 11 is a senior. The Timberwolves are clearly ascendant.

But wait; there’s more. Sophomore Brooklyn Godfrey remounted the steed she had ridden last year. Her 22:38 earned her a 2nd place medal in the JV race. WIth Teton’s 4th fastest time on the course, Brooklyn is now a game-changer, one of those harriers who can turn a thin margin at a championship race into a stunning victory. Her celebrated performance was her 2nd fastest ever, eclipsed only by her blitz at State last year.

Senior Mackenzie Lee continued to remake herself into a faster version of who she was just 6 days prior. Weekly, she steps to the line with her heart and muscle ready to explore new limits. Her 45 second improvement last Wednesday, sets her up for a District performance that could short the wires of perennial powerhouse, Sugan Salem and send shock waves across Idaho, just a week before the state championship.

The State Championship race will be at the Portneuf Wellness Center in Pocatello on Friday, Oct. 30th. Race access is restricted due to COVID rules. Watch this space for details.