For a second straight year the Coeur d’Alene girls cross country team dominated at the State 5A race.
The Vikings pulled off a repeat in impressive fashion, placing four runners in the top eight on an uncharacteristically warm Saturday at Freeman Park in Idaho Falls.
CdA finished with 63 points, outdistancing runner-up Boise (90).
The Viks weren’t the lone champs from North Idaho. The Sandpoint girls captured the 4A state title, winning by a point, Sandpoint senior Sam Levora took second and Coeur d’Alene Charter senior Leif Fredericks won the State 2A individual title.
North Idaho runners were particularly challenged because of having to run at elevation. Idaho Falls sits at about 4,700 feet above sea level while CdA is at about 2,100.
5A: Sophomore Emily Callahan led a Viking parade across the finish line, taking third in a time of 19 minutes, 14.03 seconds.
CdA junior twins Krista and Kara Story took fifth and sixth respectively, finishing three-hundredths of a second apart, and freshman Caitlin Conway was eighth.
“It was perfect conditions,” CdA coach Cathy Compton said. “It was pretty darn exciting again.” Viks junior Josie Brown, second overall last year, was 47th, overcoming an in-race health issue believed to be attributed to low iron. She was CdA’s final runner in the point count.
“We were just happy to see her finish the race,” Compton said. “She was having some issues. She normally would have been in the top 10. The nice thing is we would have won had we counted our seventh-place finisher. We were just as powerful as we were last year.”
Callahan injured her leg with about 400 meters to go – either tearing a muscle or suffering a stress fracture.
“I think I could have finished second but I just wanted to finish the race,” Callahan said. “I can’t walk right now. It was difficult to finish. I wanted to crawl at the end.”
In the boys, Lake City juniors Kyler Little and Jake Finney took fourth (16:35.33) and fifth (16:37.0) respectively. Finney was fifth last year and Little sixth.
Little had the lead until the 2-mile mark, and he had to push hard at the end to take fourth.
4A: The Sandpoint girls got the most out of their abilities, and they were rewarded. The Bulldogs finished with 101 points, one ahead of Preston.
“We knew we were trophy caliber,” Sandpoint coach Matt Brass said. “Our goal was we wanted to be in the top two or three. We thought we had an outside shot on a good day and that’s what we had was a really good day.”
The Woodward sisters – Mikhaela (20:11.27), a junior, and Rainey (20:23.68), freshman – finished sixth and eighth respectively. But the key effort came from senior Breanna Jones (22:25.67), who took 56th.
“What a way for her to end her career,” Brass said. “She understands the impact she had. At regionals, she had a tough race and really faded. She was really determined to help her team today and made up 20 spots from the three-quarter mile mark to the end.”
Moscow freshman Katherine Ruck took third (19:49.76).
In the boys, Levora (16:20.36) took second for a second straight year as state champ Elijah Armstrong of Pocatello (15:41.08) had another terrific race.
“Sam is so consistent,” Brass said. “He keeps improving. He had an outside shot and kept it close for a while. He just didn’t have it in his legs. He felt very light. He gave it everything. He’s probably the best runner in 4A history not to have a state title because Armstrong is one of the best runners in the country.”
3A: The Timberlake boys took third, finishing with 89 points. Shelley won (42). Sam St. Mars led Timberlake, placing 14th (18:00.46). Bonners Ferry’s Jacob Perkins was the top area 3A finisher, taking 11th (17:56.23).
Timberlake’s girls finished fourth with 84 points, a point out of third. Sugar-Salem won (40). Natalie Herring led Timberlake, finishing seventh (20:37.09). Teammate Taylor Hammond placed 14th (21:43.86).
2A: Fredericks completed a steady progression. He was fourth as a sophomore and third last year. He led Charter to second overall with 82 points. Traditional power Soda Springs won with 35.
“That was really, really fun to watch,” Charter coach Lewis Watkins said. “Leif hung in there and maintained his composure. I’ve never been more proud of his tenacity.”
His brother, Lance, a sophomore finished 14th. Leif had to come from behind for the win.
“With about 200 meters to go I made my kick,” Fredericks said. “Being up there on the (awards) podium with my brother was one of the best moments in my life.”