And they’re off

Runners take off at the start of the high school girls race at the Saucony Scramble cross country meet Thursday afternoon at Journey’s End Golf Course in Shelley. The high school races drew approximately 400 runners from 20 schools. Monte LaOrange /

SHELLEY—As indicated by the team tents, cheering spectators and post race watermelon on Thursday at Journey’s End Golf Course, cross-country season has arrived in eastern Idaho.

Several runners wearing orange, red and blue took home medals Thursday at the second annual Saucony XC Scramble meet co-hosted by Shelley and Sugar-Salem.

With five top-20 finishers, the girls in Idaho Falls orange won the team title with 55 points. Leading the Tigers—and District 6—was junior Ashlyn Dyer, who ran 20:33.36 to finish second behind winner Rachel McGovern of Pocatello (20:22.69).

Thursday was Dyer’s second time on the course, having finished third at last year’s meet.

“I think it’s a pretty good course,” Dyer said. “The gravel is hard to get a grip on, but it’s flat.”

A bonus to her familiarity with the course was the fact that Thursday’s race time temperature was at least 10 degrees cooler than last season’s race when several runners were treated for heat exhaustion. A steady breeze also accompanied runners along the course.

“I’m so relieved,” a smiling Dyer said in regards to the cooler weather.

Dyer’s teammates Niquelle Lewis, Rebecca Corgatelli, Virginia Nielsen and Megan Mary also won medals. Lewis and Corgatelli, both seniors, finished in 10th and 11th with respective times of 21:54.28 and 22:02.61. Nielson, a sophomore, finished 17th in 22:28.79 and Mary, a junior, was 19th in 22:33.62.

Idaho Falls graduated two from last year’s girls team which placed fourth at the 5A state championships for the program’s first trophy since 2002. Dyer said she thinks the Tigers will be just as successful this season, and she is hoping to also accomplish some individual goals.

“I want to medal at state and I also want to improve my times at each race,” Dyer said.

Accounting for the red among the medalists were Shelley, Madison and Hillcrest. Defending 3A state runner-up Shelley took second in the girls team standings with 63 points thanks to three top-20 finishes. Klarissa Andersen, a junior, and Cambria Hassell, a senior, finished fifth and sixth with respective times of 21:13.86 and 21:19.95. Sophomore Paytin Drollinger was 12th in 22:03.

Madison took third with 85 points, led by junior Megan Gehmlich’s fourth place finish in 21:09.07 and freshman Rachel Morrin’s ninth place finish in 21:44.99. Sugar-Salem, led by sophomore Shaylee Hill’s 13th place time of 22:13.71, was fourth with 133 points.

Madison edged defending 4A state champion Pocatello by three points to win the boys team title with 51 points. Four Bobcats had top 10 finishes, led by senior Jon Stutz’s third-place time of 17:09.40. Pocatello’s Elijah Armstrong won in a course record time of 16:14.84 with younger brother Malachi second in 17:05.02.

Joining Stutz in the top 10 were Mubarek Haws in fifth place (17:12.02), John Cromar in sixth (17:46.74) and Logan Garner in 10th (17:59.69). Stutz was side-by-side with Haws early, which he said gave him a boost.

“I always like to have somebody up there running with me,” Stutz said.

The Bobcats, who took fourth place at last year’s 5A state championships, feature a large senior class of athletes who compete in both cross-country and track. Stutz said he and his teammates feel good about this season.

“I think most of the guys are confident,” Stutz said. “It’s really nice to have a big group to train with and push each other in a race.”

The Hillcrest boys, led by senior Will Eddy’s ninth place time of 17:59.52 and junior Tyler Brown’s 12th place time of 18:03.99, took third place with 111 points. Shelley was fourth with 120 points, led by junior duo Austin Stewart (fourth place, 17:11.54) and Mark Crandall (eighth place, 17:50.88).

Sugar-Salem head coach and co-meet manager Brett Hill said the meet drew about 800 total middle school and high school runners. The high school meet featured 20 schools.