The consensus among some longtime District 6 cross country coaches at the end of the 2019 season was that Idaho Falls would be favorites to win the 5A boys state title in 2020.
Having won three consecutive 4A state titles from 2017 to 2019, the Tigers moved to 5A this year and joined the likes of accomplished programs Capital, Timberline, Rocky Mountain and Madison. Even with less travel due to COVID-19, the Tigers won nine of 10 meets. Among the wins were the annual Cardinal Classic, the varsity A races of the Tiger-Grizz Invitational and Bob Conley Invitational and a stacked 5A District 5-6 championship meet.
They did one better at the state meet on Oct. 30, when they claimed the 5A title with an impressive low score of 23 — their lowest score of the four consecutive titles — and getting finishes in the top 11 from Mitchell Athay (second), Zac Bright (third), Luke Athay (fourth), Joseph Ereaux (10th) and Porter Elison (11th). It was their first state title at the 5A level since 2002.
Seniors Ereaux, Elison and Mitchell Athay have been part of all four title teams, while Bright has been part of the last three and was an alternate in 2017.
For guiding Idaho Falls to the school’s first state ‘four-peat’ in any sport, Alan McMurtrey is the Post Register’s All-Area Boys Cross-Country Coach of the Year.
“It kinda chokes you up just thinking about it,” McMurtrey said Oct. 31. “They made each other better, for sure. It’s just been so fun.”