Each man raced his part to achieve a triumph
Perhaps the only people not surprised by the outcome of the Men’s 3A race were the Timberwolves who had gone through most of the season ranked 4th behind a dominant Sugar Salem, Snake River, and Gooding or Timberlake, depending on the week. Sugar packed their top 6 in the first ten places as anticipated but Teton saw an opening and took it.
Coaches Moosman and Kaufman had a heart to heart with the team after the District race. If every man did his job, Snake River could be neutralized despite being beaten by Snake repeatedly at big meets through the season. The harriers formed into groups based on those who usually raced in proximity. Discussions about support and responsibility were hashed out in these strategy sessions.
“What good is a plan?” you ask. Faster runners will beat the slower runners, right?
Well... no. Cross Country has such a strong team element that the Davids can go up against the Goliaths on occasion and prevail. It requires race awareness; athletes must be able to see what is developing in a race and then to have the will to execute while in a state of extreme exhaustion.
This supreme effort requires ‘reading jerseys.’ Until last Friday, Teton had shown no inclination or aptitude for reading jerseys. But now the men’s team seemed to absorb the concept. They planned assaults on Snake River’s Panthers in purple and white, the white, red and black of the Gooding Senators, Timberlake’s Tigers clad in navy blue and gold and of course the blue and white of the Diggers. There were eleven teams in the race as well as a cluster of individual qualifiers. But besides these 4 teams, no other squad had the depth to tangle with the Timberwolves.
On the eve of Halloween, the Wolves were aware. They had done their homework. They were hungry.
Lance Safiran jumped out with the mass of blue and white and was soon joined by James Allen. CG Woiwode pressed harder at the start than he likes and right on his heels was his older brother John. These 4 formed a team vanguard, clustered within seconds of each other, that went to work on Snake River’s top runners and Gooding’s mid-pack. Gooding’s top 2 were running sub-17 minute pace but the front four Wolfpack decimated the remaining Senators, leaving Brennen Bates, Ben Adams and Ty Terry to chase down stray politicians.
As for Timberlake, they seemed to be keying on our men as a kind of reversal. But with only 3 to chase our top four and a daunting gap forming in their mid-ranks, the Tigers were coming up short. As the race progressed in the hills, the Wolfpack seemed energized by its execution. James Allen took command at the front and CG Woiwode who had not raced in 2 weeks found his legs to move into the team’s second position. Lance was fading after his early moonshot but John Woiwode was right there running the race of his life. Both were able to feed off the realization that their front foursome was still so close.
It takes five across the line to complete a team score. A half minute back from the lead Wolves, Brennen Bates was racing in the zone. Ben Adams was running 6 seconds per mile faster than ever and Ty Terry was busy racing key jerseys.
Every jersey counts regardless of its colors. Each school’s top 5 are assigned scores corresponding to their respective place across the finish line. Those 5 places are added together and the lowest score wins. So even if Teton was in good position through Lance Safiran, every jersey passed was one less point for Teton.
Ben Adams would come away with a 19 second PR, faster than he’d ever travelled before. CG Woiwode and Brennen Bates each trimmed their times by over 11 seconds. If CG had run his previous PR, his 17th place would have brought him through in 24th whereas Brennen’s previous best would have added 8 places to the team score. Of greatest arithmetical significance, John Woiwode’s 32 second improvement accounted for a fifteen point difference in team score above what he would have achieved had he run his previous best.
James Allen saved his best race of the season for the state meet as he is wont to do. Entering the contest ranked 25th, James’ eleventh place yielded a medal. Junior, CG Woiwode earned his place on the podium, with his 17th place medal.
Sugar surprised no one with team dominance but the fight for the runner-up trophy proved that every man had fulfilled his role. Teton edged Gooding, 111 to 118. Snake River scored 131 and Timberlake capped their season with a 146. Complete results can be found online at athletic.net.