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Badger runners rebuilding, showing poise

September 11, 2023

With very few returning veteran's on this year's Badger cross country teams, the young runners are with few mentors, leaving the sophomores and freshmen who make up most of the team to learn the nuances of the game on their own, but after a hard week of practice and a tough meet Saturday at Farragut State Park, where districts will be held, coach Tyler Warner sees promise.

"First off, we're very young," Warner said. "I only have a couple of juniors and a couple seniors, but I am very heavy on sophomores this year. That being said, the folks that I have are very hard working, dedicated to getting better and are improving weekly. We had a good wake up call at Libby a couple of weeks ago as to our routines and how we prepare for success, at Post Falls before school started the athletes had a great chance to find out where they stacked up relative to people their own age. There's a lot to be said for the difference between a freshman and a senior in terms of experience and maturity, so it was nice for the young guys to race against people of similar experiences and the veterans to test how they stood. Overall we did very well."

Coeur d'Alene won Saturday's varsity boys meet with 77 points, the Badger came in last of the 25 participating teams with 748 points. Also participating from the Intermountain League was Timberlake, finishing 11th with 339 points.

Nate Stadtlander, a Meridian junior, finished first in 15:37.1. Sophomore Micah Thompson was the first Badger across the line, coming in at 148th with a time of 20:24.5, followed Cole Phillips, 155th place at 20:49.9, Jack Woods, 172nd at 21:59.3, Matthew McCabe, 174th at 22:19.8, Jackson Fiedler, 181st at 23:37.6, all sophomores, and junior Nate Murray, 185th at 24:58.1.

The Badger varsity girls didn't field a full team, so did not take a team score. Of the 19 teams that did, Mt. Spokane finished first with 103 points. Timberlake came in 13th with 272 points. Meridian junior Paisley Taylor won the meet in 19:09.7.

Junior Sydney Beckle led the way for the Badgers, finishing in 65th place at 22:58.8. Sophomore Matisyn Stiern was next in 89th place and a time of 24:10.7, senior Braylyn Bailey came in 103rd at 25:22.7 and sophomore Piper Banning came in 135th at 28:59.6.

"The team ran well, Piper Banning and Jackson Fiedler in particular put together PRs after a tough week of track workouts and hill repeats at practice," Warner said. "Veterans either came close to or posted course records for themselves, which tells me we're heading in the right direction. We just have so few returning veterans that a lot of the team is figuring out how to race, and this particular course tested their ideas of how to race, including on a two loop course where the hills on the first lap feel a lot different the second time. Overall I'd say we're improving and keeping an eye towards October when we have to go back and put all the pieces together."

The Badgers are home at Kenny Mendenhall Stadium this Saturday for the home invitational. The girls race starts at 9 a.m. followed by the boys at approximately 9:40 a.m. The course starts and finishes near the track, but most of the course is on the Badger Trail, which was developed behind the high school in part using funds from the community High Five Grant received a few years ago.
Photos by Jan Bayer

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