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Madeline Pentz (left) shows great form pressing to the finish closely pursued by Kalia Moncur. 

Lee advances to the state contest

The wind is a monster. You have to grit your teeth and go right at it. And you’ve gotta last longer than the wind. You have to push harder and longer than the wind to stake your claim.

District championships are won on the backs of heroes who see their way to glory when a state qualification hangs in the balance. Some cadre of harriers will forget what they know and race toward the unknown. These are the athletes who will decide the day. For them, what has been, is only the past. ‘Today, I race my dreams. Today, I run as I have not run before and I will pay any price to see it through; or I will collapse in the attempt.’

On Wednesday, last, South Fremont came ready to race their best, the wind be damned. Seven of the Cougars’ top 9 runners crossed the line racing their best times while the Timberwolves struggled with this unseen force that blasted them at every stride for about 2700 meters of the 5000 meter course.

All season, the Cougs had been denied and humbled by the depth and speed in the Teton ranks but despite fewer top tier runners, they plotted a do or die strategy knowing that it all comes down to the District meet. They turned the tables so completely that the final score was not even close.

In the face of this bold attack, not a single Wolf could muster a PR. South came out of the gates racing against the maroon and orange while Teton seemed lost in the cyclone, barely aware of the red jerseys ahead of them.

Relative to previous races and times, some of our harriers managed the ferocious polar jetstream better than others.

Lindsey Simmons raced as steady as she knew how and ran her second fastest time as did her fellow sophomore Addie Hansen who was only 21” off her best.

Freshman, Kalia Moncur has shown the stuff of greatness all season. Having no background in distance running, Kalia absorbed every lesson of her passionate coaches and her short career. She had never raced inside of visible proximity to teammate Madeline Pentz but sharpened her blade and crossed the line mere seconds behind her.

Among the scorers and displacers, Mackenzie Lee saw her way to her second best time ever and a fourth place finish and a qualifying spot as an individual at the State Meet next week in Pocatello. Mackenzie is the team’s only senior and has raced to reluctant leadership this year.

She is reticent to expound on her obvious talent. When asked the next day to reflect on the race, her first comment was, “I don’t really know what to say.”

“Really windy … scary …”

I pressed her on the scary and she referred back to running into the wind. So I asked how she dealt with that.

“I imagined that the wind kinda went through me.”

Unlike a ghost though, Mackenzie has proven herself to be a real presence at the state level. She is racing solidly at 20 and a half minutes now and loves the state course. Her best time last year was produced at the state meet there and when she raced there earlier this season, it was her fastest effort to date.

When Mackenzie is walking through her course review, she likes to listen to classical music but before getting into the starting box she listens to energetic hype music.

Despite her reserved external demeanor, Mackenzie has built a strong bond with her sisters on the team. She lamented that it will be hard to race without them.

But the Wolfpack will be there en masse to receive its award for winning the Academic State Championship. At every turn and on every hill, she will hear their voices cheering encouragement. Denied a berth in the state race, the women will pour their hopes and aspirations into their leader, thus helping her to realize her own goals in this, the final race of her high school cross career.