Tigers, Grizz end district XC title droughts

Idaho Falls’ Zach Erikson maintains the lead during the 4A District 5-6 boys cross-country championships Friday at Russ Freeman Park. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

Idaho Falls’ Zach Erikson leads the pack during the 4A District 5-6 boys cross-country championships Friday at Russ Freeman Park. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

Idaho Falls High School run alongside each other in the 4A District 5-6 boys cross-country championships Friday at Russ Freeman Park. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

Idaho Falls’ Zach Erikson stretches his lead during the 4A District 5-6 boys cross country championships Friday at Russ Freeman Park. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

Idaho Falls High School runners take off at the start of the 4A District 5-6 boys cross-country championships Friday at Russ Freeman Park. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

Skyline’s Breanne Herrmann competes during the 4A District 5-6 girls cross-country championships Friday at Russ Freeman Park. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

Despite 40 mph winds, cheers from Skyline and Idaho Falls high school cross-country runners could not be drowned out during Friday’s 4A District 5-6 championships at Freeman Park.

The meet was a District 91 sweep as Skyline won its first girls cross-country district title since 2004 with a score of 30, and Idaho Falls claimed its first boys district title since 2005 with a score of 49.

There were ample congratulations to go around among the state qualifiers, including a handshake between Idaho Falls head coach Alan McMurtrey and Skyline head coach Sean Schmidt.

“Our district will be well represented,” McMurtrey said.

The Tigers and Grizz also split the individual titles. Skyline freshman Sariah Harrison won her fifth meet of the year, claiming the girls title in 20 minutes, 13.18 seconds and leading Skyline to five top-15 finishes Friday. Idaho Falls junior Zach Erikson was boys champion in 16:33.14, earning his fifth win this fall and leading the Tigers to eight top-20 finishes.

Harrison took the lead early with no one closing the gap until the hill behind the Vietnam War Memorial, where Blackfoot’s Abby Hurst and Skyline’s Macy Olson made up ground on the ascent. That was as close as it got the rest of the way, and those three girls took the first three spots in that order.

“I just thought, ‘They have the wind, too. We’re all hurting,’” Harrison said of extending her lead. “People who are gonna succeed are the ones who push through the pain.”

Harrison’s win also ended another Grizzlies’ drought. She is the first female Skyline individual cross-country district champion since 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier and current Skyline assistant coach Erica Wendt Richardson won as a sophomore in 2004.

While learning this made her grin, Harrison said she was hoping most of all to help Skyline send a full team to state. The Grizzlies were six points shy of qualifying for state last year.

“I knew I had to push and finish strong,” Harrison said. “I wanted to go to state and I really wanted my team to go to state.”

Schmidt estimated that it has likely been since 2004 that Skyline has qualified a girls team to state. Their title win comes a year after Skyline’s boys won districts and state, and Schmidt said the Grizzlies have been great to coach.

“They’re just an excellent group of girls,” Schmidt said. “They’ve worked hard all year. They deserved it.”

Sporting neon yellow sleeves and white gloves, Erikson built a lead in the boys race that grew with each stride. Upon crossing the finish line for a 33-second victory margin, Erikson gave an emphatic fist pump.

“That felt so good,” Erikson said. “I wanted to make a statement. Those guys in Boise are killing it. I want to show them I can be super fast too.”

Friday’s gusty winds prompted the Freeman Park course to be cleared of fallen tree branches and leaves before race time, and the runners ran into the gusts every time they turned southwest. Erikson said the winds did not hinder him, however.

“Honestly, it felt like nothing,” he said. “I felt so good. I’ve run in worse conditions. Today was just my day.”

McMurtrey called depth a luxury for the I.F. boys this year, giving the Tigers a complete package of runners who compete in the lead group and others who maintain a solid pack further back. Winning a team title in a district he described as a “running haven” was an accomplishment McMurtrey said was reflective of the Tigers’ endeavors.

“It’s a tribute to them and how hard they have worked,” McMurtrey said. “That depth really shows.”

The top three teams and top 14 individuals from Friday’s races qualified for the 4A state meet Oct. 28 at Eagle Island State Park. Blackfoot and Preston tied for third with identical scores of 70 in the boys team standings and will both qualify for state, per the Idaho State Journal’s confirmation with Blackfoot athletic director Cody Shelley.

4A District 5-6 championships

Friday at Freeman Park

*Complete results on athletic.net*

Girls

Team scores: 1. Skyline 30, 2. Idaho Falls 54, 3. Blackfoot 74, 4. Pocatello 107, 5. Century 131, 6. Preston 145

Individual results (top 40 only)

1. Sariah Harrison (SKY) 20:13.18; 2. Abby Hurst (BLAC) 20:21.65; 3. Macy Olson (SKY) 20:25.50; 4. Paige Shumway (PRE) 20:37.93; 5. Tenleigh Smith (BLAC) 20:41.92; 6. Adria Roberts (SKY) 20:47.20; 7. Breanne Herrmann (SKY) 20:54.28; 8. Emma Clarke (IF) 20:55.44; 9. Madi Mary (IF) 21:09.06; 10. Burkleigh Yost (CENT) 21:23.95; 11. Jennalee Lewis (IF) 21:30.29; 12. Daphne Herway (IF) 21:51.92; 13. Megan Reed (SKY) 21:57.45; 14. McKenna Lewis (IF) 22:06.28; 15. Harlee Hales (POC) 22:08.37; 16. Shakayla Morgan (BLAC) 22:13.53; 17. Neisha Oakey (IF) 22:14.54; 18. Brinley Chambers (SKY) 22:15.25; 19. Maren Archibald (IF) 22:20.71; 20. Madi Andreason (IF) 22:25.30; 21. Liz Stewart (IF) 22:25.60; 22. Ashlyn Chambers (SKY) 22:26.31; 23. Maci Wilkerson (IF) 22:32.76; 24. Annalise Cheret (SKY) 22:38.58; 25. Adi Spillett (POC) 22:39.06; 26. Sulette Ferreyra (POC) 22:43.65; 27. Kristen Thomas (BLAC) 22:48.21; 28. Char Sholes (POC) 22:52.79; 29. Ally Whitmer (POC) 22:59.57; 30. Katelyn Shadley (IF) 23:03.73; 31. Elizabeth Harrison (SKY) 23:07.67; 32. Emma Wilson (SKY) 23:07.97; 33. Sydney Olcott (CENT) 23:09.87; 34. Belle Phillip (IF) 23:14.20; 35. Halli Olson (SKY) 23:17.42; 36. Lauren Gyles (IF) 23:21.25; 37. Isabella Adams (CENT) 23:22.83; 38. Sydney Crumley (BLAC) 23:29.52; 39. Jane Athay (IF) 23:38.08; 40. Kaitlyn Jensen (BLAC) 23:38.87

Boys

Team scores: 1. Idaho Falls 49, 2. Skyline 66, 3. Preston 70, 3. Blackfoot 70, 5. Pocatello 114, 6. Century 152

Individual results (top 40 only)

1. Zach Erikson (IF) 16:33.14; 2. Dallin Hart (SKY) 17:06.07; 3. McKay Harms (SKY) 17:16.89; 4. Dallin Bird (POC) 17:19.68; 5. Josh Harrison (PRE) 17:20.96; 6. Riley Reid (PRE) 17:21.06; 7. Reed Eddington (IF) 17:29.74; 8. Jacob Despain (BLAC) 17:33.14; 9. Shane Gard (POC) 17:40.03; 10. Mitchell Athay (IF) 17:40.17; 11. Austin Despain (BLAC) 17:46.40; 12. Nate Blackwelder (BLAC) 17:58.96; 13. Sam Jeppson (PRE) 18:02.35; 14. Eric Johnson (SKY) 18:05.99; 15. Joseph Ereaux (IF) 18:09.33; 16. Matthew Gyles (IF) 18:10.19; 17. Porter Elison (IF) 18:10.51; 18. Zac Bright (IF) 18:10.96; 19. Isaac Corgatelli (IF) 18:17.30; 20. Parker Marshall (BLAC) 18:20.14; 21. Derek Thomas (BLAC) 18:24.26; 22. Danny Groll (PRE) 18:26.57; 23. Michael Scott (CENT) 18:32.95; 24. Bryce Dennert (SKY) 18:34.12; 25. Jaxon Hathaway (SKY) 18:36.78; 26. Braeden Dyer (IF) 18:38.89; 27. Wyatt Crowther (PRE) 18:41.40; 28. Dawson Leffler (PRE) 18:41.89; 29. Xander Thompson (CENT) 18:41.89; 30. Logan Olcott (CENT) 18:46.88; 31. James Cannon (BLAC) 18:48.53; 32. Zackary Lott (SKY) 18:58.00; 33. Cameron Dennert (IF) 18:59.74; 34. Noah Holloway (SKY) 19:00.06; 35. Hank Phillip (IF) 19:00.10; 36. Bryton Zohner (SKY) 19:00.39; 37. Derrek Lindstrom (POC) 19:01.38; 38. Jordan Marlor (POC) 19:01.40; 39. Gabe Hammons (PRE) 19:03.13; 40. Trevor Robertson (BLAC) 19:08.20

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