Printed on: September 25, 2013

Locals shine at Firman

By MARLOWE HEREFORD
mhereford@postregister.com

Eagle Island State Park was the latest venue for success for several District 6 runners Saturday.

For Shelley High School's Austin Stewart, it was another statement win in his young career.

The sophomore ran a personal best 16:21.08 to win the varsity boys Division 2 race at the prestigious Bob Firman Invitational on Saturday at Eagle Island State Park. Stewart's race featured 199 runners from multiple states, and his win came just eight days after his first Tiger-Grizz title.

"Unfortunately, I wasn't able to be there to watch it," Shelley coach Ryan Campbell said. "I watched it online. There's a kid from Utah (David Ribich of Enterprise High School) he said pushed him really well. The last half mile or so, he was able to hold him off."

Campbell said Stewart's success is attributed to his offseason work ethic. Stewart worked closely with coaches during the winter and also pushed his limits in the summer and hit the weight room.

"He's done quite a bit," Campbell said. "We put in quite a bit more miles than last year. He certainly put forth the effort all year round to meet these goals this year."

Stewart has also contributed to a Shelley program on the rise. Until recently, the Russets had a handful of cross country runners. Now Shelley has enough to field both a boys and girls team and it has experienced growth in both numbers and interest at the middle school level as well.

"He's done a lot of good things just with the program as a whole as far as recruiting kids," Campbell said. "A lot of kids look up to him because he's such a great runner. This year we've got 25 high school kids and 25 middle school kids."

For as many goals as Stewart has this season, not all of them are individual aspirations. Campbell said to his knowledge, he has not come across a boys state cross-country trophy in the Shelley trophy case, and Stewart is hoping to change that. Greater still is the goal to continue to put Shelley's growing program on the map.

"The boys have a real good chance of getting to state," Campbell said. "We've got some tough competition to get there in our district with Sugar-Salem and Teton. The girls are running really well, too. We have a lot of first-year runners. We've got some big goals. We're still a pretty young program."

Elsewhere at Bob Firman, Hillcrest and Skyline had top-40 individual finishes. Leading the way for District 6 was Hillcrest's Will Eddy, who ran 16:32.18 for sixth place in boys varsity Division 1. He was the fourth Idaho boy to finish in a race that featured 211 runners.

This is a comeback season for Eddy, who took sixth in Sept. 13's Tiger-Grizz varsity A boys race and was injured last year.

"It's been really fun watching Will," Hillcrest coach Bob Hagert said. "He's been working since track season without a stop. He was more astonished at Tiger-Grizz because I don't think he expected it. At Bob Firman, he expected to actually run well."

Sara Powell led the Knights in the girls varsity Division 1 race, running 20:52.

Her underclassmen teammates took second in the freshman girls race with 33 points, just three behind winner Jackson. Addy Kirkham paced Hillcrest in that race with a third-place time of 20:21.29. Every Hillcrest freshman girl broke 21:35.

"I don't think we've ever had a group of freshman girls as good as we've had (this year)," Hagert said. "We were pleasantly shocked at the result. If we had put all of our girls together in the varsity race, we probably could have gotten a trophy."

Pacing the Skyline Grizzlies were Niels Mitchell and Treyson Sperry, who were right behind each other in the boys varsity Division 1 race. The duo took 23rd and 24th with respective times of 17:01.82 and 17:05.30.

"Trey's been ahead of Niels for most of the season, but Niels had an outstanding effort," Skyline coach Sean Schmidt said. "Niels was ahead of Treyson from about the mile mark on."

Leading Skyline in the girls varsity Division 1 race was Danielle Barna, who was the top District 6 finisher with a time of 20:14.30 for 13th place.

Barna, Mitchell and Sperry have all seen significant drops in their times at big meets since last year. The trio had top 40 times at both Tiger-Grizz and Bob Firman this season.

"Their offseason efforts have shown and their work ethic at practice," Schmidt said. "That's all on them."