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A pack of Teton Timberwolves brave the Blackfoot heat during their first meet on Aug. 27.

If you want to tighten the bonds you feel with your neighbors, raise a barn. Work together on some large, meaningful project and your differences will be overshadowed by the cooperative efforts of your labors. The resulting product will stand as a monument to your united resolve.

The construction of this year’s cross country team began back in March. For the veterans on the team, this was the first scholastic competition since cross country season last Fall after 2020 Spring sports were canceled statewide. They felt invested in this cross season as never before.

Two weeks of team workouts lead the local harriers to their first competition. The 5K course at Blackfoot High School is flat and on Thursday, last week, it was hot and dusty. Teton made its first outing ever as the Timberwolves for four races.

The veterans came ready to raise a barn. For younger runners this may have been their first cross race ever and for a few transfers, this was their first effort wearing the Maroon and Orange.

What was apparent immediately was that more than hopes and desires were on the line. These athletes were ready to race despite the solar intensity. Perceptible was a fresh level of commitment among all the team’s veterans. This commitment was conveyed to the new harriers through the work of the last two weeks of training.

The JV women went off first, three of them. Freshman harrier Taylor Amey raced a time strong enough to be competitive in the varsity ranks. Her 28:36 proved up soundly for an initial effort. Her solid performance may partially be attributable to her acclimatization to heat; Taylor previously lived in eastern Oregon and so she has not been intimidated by what we call “hot weather” in Teton Valley. Taylor can remind her teammates that we live in one of the mildest summer climates in the lower 48.

Junior, Liza Marcum spent much of the summer working outside which helped her cope with race conditions. Lyndsay Simmons (soph) felt she may have gone out too fast but hung tough for the duration.

Eleven Timberwolves toed the line in the men’s JV event. Junior veteran, Cameron Edwards (20:32) was only 5 seconds off his best 5k time notifying his teammates that he is ready to move to varsity. Cameron reflected on his extra strong push in the last 200 meters. “It was a feeling I hadn’t really felt before. It was pretty great.”

Sophomore Ty Terry (20:35) broke away from his teammates early, happy to allow his legs to race again after becoming injured in the latter part of the 2019 season. Gavin Behrens and Brennan Bates finished with 17 seconds between them.

Freshman, Tyson Marcum was in the Teton chase pack of 5, four of whom were returnees. This cluster all came through within 30 seconds of each other.

Junior, Carl Ripplinger was also in that pack, happy to be wearing the uniform after an extended series of illness and injuries. He focused on the turns and surface changes that came at the runners throughout the course and was able to help his teammates learn to manage these transitions.

Two other frosh, Rocky Morales and Frankie Tuttle were in their first endurance race of their high school careers.

In the women’s varsity, Teton brought 5 across the line in a 3 minute span. Junior, Sarah Bagley led her team in her signature style, head erect, eyes down and pressing from the gun.

Breah Hunter is a sophomore who ran for Idaho Falls last year. She has been adjusting to her 1500 foot elevation gain and attending the cooler morning workouts. She is adapting though. Her 18 second proximity to Sarah in the finish chute is a motivating factor for the varsity squad.

Senior, Mackenzie Lee ran with newly forged confidence that came from summer miles and fresh motivation. She intentionally held back but stoked the boilers in the final third of the race and swallowed runners who were fading.

Breah's sister, Kylie Hunter (junior) was next across the line for Teton. Her form was relaxed and strong throughout. The Hunters are still adjusting to the smaller team size in their new rural home but they appreciate the individual attention they receive from coaches Kaufman and Moosman. Breah echoed her sister’s observation, “They still teach you a lot and the coaches are really one on one with the athletes.”

Jenna Letham completed the scoring five followed by Sophomores, Catherine Torres and Addison Hansen.

Senior, Lance Safiran’s many summer miles paid dividends immediately. He has always been willing to get out quickly but unlike in past years Lance’s legs kept up with his spirit over the course of the race (18:17). Senior, James Allen was 17 seconds back. There was a gap before John Woiwode (senior) led his brother CG (junior) across the finish.

Junior, Noah Machen was the next man in. Sixth man was Alex Ortiz, a 1st year sophomore. Alex is a serious and focused young man. He saw an opportunity to spread his wings in his first race and so he did.

Junior Ben Adams filled out the varsity ranks racing at this new level earned through summer miles.

Among all the varsity runners, was a palpable acceptance of their new role as leaders. Along with privilege comes responsibility. The team’s veterans seem to understand that they must perform, they must lead, they must be willing to sacrifice in order to hold the esteem of their teammates.

And so it has been, going back to the nineties that seniors graduate and move on and the younger athletes grow into their position. This class of harriers started the process of inheritance early. The normal string of succession was accelerated in the spring. They have been building this season for six months.

The Timberwolves will go on their next hunt at Kelly Park in Soda Springs on Saturday the 5th. The varsity women will race first at 11 a.m. followed by the varsity men. JV races will follow. Arrive early as the Cardinal Classic is a huge event and parking is at a premium and there is some distance to cover from the parking area to the race course.

For more info on the season as well as race results, go to athletic.net and navigate to Teton’s cross page. Bookmark the page for future reference.