Just when Coeur d’Alene cross country coach Cathy Compton thought she’d seen everything from her girls team, it went and topped even her wildest imagination Saturday afternoon.
Ranked No. 1 all season, Coeur d’Alene confirmed it in dominating style, posting a state-record 29 points at Hells Gate State Park in Lewiston to capture the school’s second State 5A championship.
That topped the previous best of 40 points posted in 2001 by Meridian.
The Vikings placed five in the top 10, led by sophomore Josie Brown. She took second, finishing in 18 minutes, 13.5 seconds on the same course she clocked 19 minutes, 9.9 seconds last week at regionals. Punky Duran, CdA’s lone senior, was fifth (18:22.7), sophomore Kara Story was sixth (18:27.1), freshman Emily Calahan (18:33.5) was seventh and sophomore Krista Story (18:43.3) was 10th.
“I knew we had a huge shot if we competed,” Compton said. “I’ve been around the block a few times and I’ve seen all kinds of strange things happen at state. I’ve seen kids blow up and I’ve seen kids excel beyond words – whether it be my team or another. I was very, very confident in these girls that if they held their nerves they were going to win this race.”
They did that and more. Each had a personal best.
“That’s unheard of,” Compton said.
Sophomore Emily Hamlin of Boise repeated as state champ (18:09.4).
Brown, third at state last year and fourth on her team at regionals, had Hamlin in her sights.
“It came down to the end and she outkicked me,” Brown said.
Brown was overjoyed nonetheless.
“We push each other in practice every day,” Brown said. “It’s amazing to get a team title as young as we are. I’m already looking forward to next year and getting another one.”
Duran talked to the team before the race.
“I just said, ‘Everybody do your best so we have no regrets at the end,’ and we all did our best,” Duran said. “This has been my goal all year.”
Compton was standing near the 2-mile mark when the lead pack, which included her girls, came by.
“It was so tight,” Compton said. “I just knew that if they held it together they’d be fine. They did more than that. They all moved up.”
There was nothing singular for the Vikings. Running at state was a corporate approach.
“They all wanted it just as bad for their teammates as they did for themselves,” Compton said. “I think I have a national-caliber team here.”
• The CdA boys, the defending state champs who suffered big losses to graduation, managed also to surprise Compton by taking third with 122 points. Rocky Mountain captured the title (57).
Senior Michael Dunton led the Vikings, taking eighth (16:16.6).
The top area finishers were a pair of sophomores from Lake City. Jake Finney took fifth (16:04.7), less than 2 seconds ahead of teammate Kyler Little (16:06.5), who was sixth.
Finney placed 32nd as a freshman.
“I hoped to do better, but that’s what I expected,” Finney said. “The first half of the race I was in the lead, but they just pulled away. I hope to be in the mix for a state title next year.”
Sophomore Dwain Stucker of Meridian took first (15:42.3).
4A: You’d have thought Sandpoint junior Sam Levora had won judging by his smile.
Fifth a year ago, Levora moved up and finished second (15:49.2). Sophomore Elijah Armstrong of Pocatello won (15:34.1).
“Right after the track season, I spent four months every day over the summer running just for this one day,” Levora said. “I got a PR and this is a tough course. You’re constantly changing your pace. You’re constantly adapting to hills, sand and mud sometimes. I ran it really smart. I didn’t do anything crazy that would have killed me.”
He now owns all the school records in cross country and the distances in track. Just one remains – the 1,600, which is held by Levora’s coach, Matt Brass.
“His summer training was exactly what we lined out,” Brass said. “He does exactly what he’s asked. He just goes and executes. He’s a great example for the team and he’s the best runner Sandpoint’s ever had.”
In the girls, freshman Rachel McGovern of Pocatello was state champ (18:24.2). Sophomore Mikhaela Woodward of Sandpoint was 18th (20:06.8). The top 20 in each race receive medals.
Middleton took the team title with 86 points.
3A: The Timberlake girls, three-time defending state champs, earned another trophy, finishing fourth with 97 points. Sugar-Salem won (39).
In the boys, Timberlake finished three points out of a trophy in fifth (120). Teton won (68).
2A: The Coeur d’Alene Charter boys took fourth with 128 points. Logos of Moscow won (56).
The CdA Charter girls took fifth with 173. Soda Springs won (27).