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Alexander has individual win, girls get team trophy Priest River

 
September 28, 2021
 
The Badger girl's took their first team title of the season at Priest River by virtue of being the only full team at the invite,
but they are a single point off first place in the IML at this point of what's been a trying season.

The Badgers traveled to Priest River Tuesday, September 21, and ran the 5k Ivan Benson Invite at Priest River High School. They modified their course to include a couple of non-consecutive laps on the track, which made it a little bit faster than normal. Highlights on the boys side included a big win for Badger Connor Alexander. On the girls side, the Badgers brought home the trophy.

Kellogg, Priest River, Lakeland, CdA Charter and the Immaculate Conception Academy boys also participated. COVID cases have kept many schools from having full teams, but numbers are also down for teams across the district. Even Timberlake, which historically is able to recruit large teams, is down for numbers this year.

In the boys race, Alexander posted a new personal record of 17:07.2 to win with a 17 second lead over second place finisher Kellen Souza, IC Academy, who finished at 17:24.3. That puts Connor at fifth place in the Idaho State 3A rankings.

Wyatt Smith also had another huge PR of 19:30.6, an improvement of one minute, 16 seconds and good for 14th place. For Wyatt, this marks over a two minute and 30 second overall PR from the start of the season.

Teammate Colin Fairchild also helped pace Wyatt to a huge PR as well, running a 19:30.5 for 13th place.

"We had a really nice pack of boys running together for most of the race, led by veteran Justin Strugar," Badger Coach Tyler Warner said. "Strugar unfortunately has been battling shin splints, but if he hadn't carried Wyatt and Colin as he had done, those boys would have had much greater difficulty reaching their times. The absence of Levi Bonnell was also felt."

Running through the pain, Strugar finished in 21:36.4 for a 21st place finish.

Carson Dineen had a season best time of 22:44.1 for 27th, and Ryan Beckle ran a 23:18.1 for a 30th place finish. Ian Williams continues to improve, posting another PR at 24:37.1, good for 36th place, and Chase Xitco came in at 37:49.1 and 41st place.

In team scoring the boys finished third with 59 points behind IC Academy, 36, and CdA Charter, 46. Kellogg finished with 72 points.

"I have a feeling that if the pack of three had held together and if Levi had been healthy, we'd have been in a much better spot," Warner said. "As long as everyone stays healthy, we'll see a lot of those same folks at Kellogg. We should be pretty competitive if that is the case."

In the girls races, injuries were the main setback for the Badgers. Camille Ussher was out, but Ceci Roemer filled in admirably.

She held second place for most of the race, but dealing with a severe bloody nose caused her to drop back a slot, finishing third at 23:29.2.

"If not for that, I'm confident she would have held second and probably had a decent chance at a PR," Warner said. "The other girls stepped up nicely though."

Also medaling for Bonners Ferry in sixth through eighth place respectively were Leah Moellmer, 25:07.2, Jayden Byars, 26:25.2, and Lilana Brinkman, 28:49.1. Leah and Jayden both posted PR's and Liliana had a season best time.

Trina Johnson posted a time of 31:58.3 for a 13th place finish and Sophomore Lily Owens completed her first race with a 35:45.4 time for 16th. Elizabeth Bourassa ran a 38:58.4 for a 17th place finish.

In team scoring, the Bonners Ferry girls finished first as they fielded the only complete team, thus posting a perfect score of 15.

"I told the girls that getting first by being the only team sort of feels like a consolation prize, but in a year such as this when even 4A Lakeland has a difficult time fielding a team, that is in and of itself a win," Warner said. "Charter couldn't do it, Priest River couldn't do it. Nobody had the culture, the commitment, the health and the ability to field a team except for us. And that means good things for our program. I'm proud of having a strong core of girls that are willing to show up every day and so even though it doesn't feel like it, that trophy is still well deserved in my eyes."

A little over halfway through the season, the boys sit in third based on fastest times in the Intermountain League so far this year. The girls, however, are one point out of first place, with Coeur d'Alene Charter currently predicted to finish with 35 points and Bonners Ferry with 36, according to the fastest times posted on Athletic.net.

The Badgers travel to Kellogg Thursday, September 30, with races starting at 3:30 p.m.

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