POCATELLO — Idaho Falls head cross-country coach Alan McMurtrey was warned by his boys and girls teams entering Saturday’s 4A state championships that he was going to get wet.
The warning came from a story McMurtrey shared with them about his third season as head coach. In 2002 when Idaho Falls won the 5A boys title at Farragut State Park in Athol, the runners talked McMurtrey into what he thought was a victory lap by Lake Pend Orielle that ended with them tossing him in the lake. McMurtrey’s current runners said they owed him a wet celebration of some kind after finding no bodies of water near Lewiston Orchards at the 2018 state meet.
McMurtrey learned what his team had in mind this year after Idaho Falls swept the 4A boys and girls state titles Saturday at Portneuf Wellness Complex. Team parents brought out bottles of apple cider after the trophy presentation and the bottles were opened at the team tent, starting a cider spraying celebration that had runners and coaches alike chasing each other and getting soaked.
The euphoria captured a historic achievement on multiple levels. Upon winning a third consecutive 4A boys team title and a program first girls team title, Idaho Falls became the first District 6 school to ever sweep 4A cross-country state titles.
“The words I kept giving to my kids were ‘epic’ and ‘legendary,’” McMurtrey said. “I don’t think they even realize what just happened and how special it is. To have it actually all come together… I just have to keep pinching myself.”
The Tigers completed the sweep thanks to four medalists on the boys side and four medalists on the girls side. I.F.’s top five girls all finished in the top 26 while I.F.’s top five boys finished in the top 29.
Reality was still sinking in for seniors Madi Mary and Emma Clarke, who said Saturday would not have been possible without the performances I.F.’s top five runners. They added that the state title was the product of persevering through many ups and downs over their four-year varsity careers.
“All of that looking back was worth it to get to this point,” Clarke said.
“I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way,” Mary added.
Zac Bright, a junior who furthermore added to I.F.’s historic day by winning the boys race in 15:23.30 to become District 6’s first ever 4A boys individual champion, was also taking in the moment and he shared in the joy of his female teammates.
“It’s just insane,” Bright said. “They’ve worked so hard for this.”
Idaho Falls senior Isaac Corgatelli, who still had some cider left in his bottle to drink after the chasing ended, said it was fitting that the Tigers got the sweep at Portneuf Wellness Complex. The state meet was last at the venue in 2016, when the I.F. boys placed fifth and the girls placed fourth in their first season in 4A.
“Our last time here three years ago it was very disappointing for the boys team, and our girls felt like they could have finished better than fourth,” Corgatelli said. “It’s great we got to come back and show what we could do.”
McMurtrey and members of both teams said there were some nerves Saturday knowing what was possible and what was on the line. While he didn’t get to watch much of the girls race because the boys were warming up for their race, Bright said the nerves started setting in for him once he learned the girls had won.
“We didn’t want the girls to take all the fun,” Bright said, laughing.
McMurtrey said it was a good kind of nerves, however, adding that the Tigers prepared well and that gave them confidence in each other.”
“It’s been a long time since I’ve had those particular juices flowing like that,” McMurtrey said. “I just really tried to let them know to be thankful for this opportunity.”
Those nerves disappeared, however, once the final results were official, giving the Tigers a memory to keep forever.
“I’m definitely going to remember this for a long time,” said sophomore Hannah Kohler, whose hair was drenched from cider.
Twin Falls senior Mattalyn Geddes ran 17:30.09--the fastest girls time of the day--to win her third consecutive 4A individual title. Taking second in her state meet debut was Bonneville freshman Alivia Johnson in a personal best 18:17.58.
“It’s kinda surreal,” Johnson said of her state debut finish.
Skyline junior Sariah Harrison, who entered Saturday as two-time defending state runner-up, finished third in 18:30.05. Johnson passed her in the final stretch to take second.
“My heart was just breaking for her,” Johnson said. “Sariah’s amazing and she’s like my idol. I was just wishing I could help her.”
Harrison said she has never before felt like she was going to pass out after a race, but Saturday was the closest she came to it.
“It’s not what I expected, but I feel really at peace with my race,” Harrison said. “(Johnson’s) awesome. I’m so excited to see what she does with the rest of her high school years.”
The Skyline girls placed fourth in 4A. District 6 had five 5A medalists, led by Madison junior Will Dixon’s fourth place finish in 15:43.38 in the boys race. Madison placed third in the 5A boys standings for the second consecutive year, finishing with 97 points.
Timberline claimed the 5A boys title over Meridian in a tiebreaker that referenced the finishes of those team’s sixth runners while Boise repeated as 5A girls champions. Borah junior Nathan Green defended his 5A individual title with a winning time of 15:13.97 while Eagle junior Lizzie Dildine claimed her career first title upon winning the girls race in 17:42.16. Mountain View senior Lexy Halladay, who entered Saturday as three-time defending girls individual champion, led the race early before slipping back to finish 15th in 18:43.71.
Idaho cross-country state championships
full results on https://live.athletic.net/meets/4704
Individual results are top-10 only plus other top-20 local finishers
Team scores: 1. Timberline 84, 2. Meridian 84, 3. Madison 97, 4. Eagle 97, 5. Mountain View 105, 6. Rigby 112, 7. Rocky Mountain 116, 8. Lewiston 214, 9. Post Falls 217
1, Nathan Green (Borah) 15:13.97. 2, Derek Litzsinger (Eagle) 15:35.71. 3, Hayden Bostrom (TIM) 15:37.42. 4, Will Dixon (MAD) 15:43.38. 5, Tanner Wilkinson (MER) 16:00.98. 6, Caden Byrer (LEW) 16:09.47. 7, Tyler Demasters (MER) 16:09.84. 8, Seth Bingham (Thunder Ridge) 16:13.49. 9, Ryan Stutz (MAD) 16:13.86. 10, Benjamin Ricks (RIG) 16:16.37. 11, Mason Chandler (RIG) 16:17.90.
Team scores: 1. Boise 44, 2. Timberline 72, 3. Eagle 80, 4. Post Falls 91, 5. Mountain View 116, 6. Madison 169, 7. Centennial 184, 8. Coeur D’Alene 208, 9. Thunder Ridge 215
1, Lizzie Dildine (EAG) 17:42.16. 2, Sydney Shanahan (PF) 17:45.82. 3, Ashley LaJocies (EAG) 17:50.80. 4, Samantha Wood (PF) 18:15.08. 5, Aubrey Thueson (CENT) 18:21.05. 6, Rosina Machu (BOI) 18:26.51. 7, Mikella Tobin (BOI) 18:28.30. 8, Robyn Reeder (Capital) 18:31.34. 9, Jamie Hamlin (BOI) 18:32.45. 10, Molly Elliott (BOI) 18:33.99.
Team scores: 1. Idaho Falls 54, 2. Preston 75, 3. Kuna 77, 4 Pocatello 142, 5. Sandpoint 168, 6. Blackfoot 172, 7. Skyline (ID) 226, 8. Ridgevue 234, 9. Bishop Kelly 247, 10. Vallivue 247, 11. Century 249, 12. Twin Falls 267, 13. Jerome 275, 14. Moscow 344, 15. Caldwell 396
1, Zac Bright (IF) 15:23.30. 2, Russell Richardson (KUNA) 15:25.88. 3, Mitchell Athay (IF) 15:30.48. 4, Riley Reid (PRE) 15:39.81. 5, Kobe Yost (JER) 15:45.27. 6, Sam Jeppsen (PRE) 15:49.38. 7, Tyler Mesaros (BK) 15:50.46. 8, Ryker Holtzen (CR) 15:56.29. 9, Edison Leffler (PRE) 16:00.63. 10, Jacob Criddle (MH) 16:02.48. 14, Joseph Ereaux (IF) 16:06.03. 17, Porter Elison (IF) 16:08.73.
Team scores: 1. Idaho Falls 65, 2. Bishop Kelly 88, 3. Twin Falls 114, 4. Skyline 143, 5. Kuna 147, 6. Pocatello 152, 7. Preston 178, 8. Nampa 220, 9. Century 244, 10. Sandpoint 261, 11. Shelley 269, 12. Moscow 281, 13. Jerome 283, 14. Middleton 300, 15. Vallivue 382
1, Mattalyn Geddes (TF) 17:30.09. 2, Alivia Johnson (BONN) 18:17.58. 3, Sariah Harrison (SKY) 18:30.05. 4, Alexia Corona (Ridgevue) 18:38.64. 5, Andie Bell (PRE) 18:43.05. 6, Bailey Bird (POC) 18:50.05. 7, Hannah Kohler (IF) 18:57.35. 8, Cassandra Vasquez (NAM) 18:58.01. 9, Charlize Lawson (Mountain Home) 19:02.67. 10, Anna Ranieri (BK) 19:09.80. 14, Allison Lemons (IF) 19:18.43. 16, Elanor Eddington (IF) 19:20.99. 17, Adria Roberts (SKY) 19:21.99. 18, Jennalee Lewis (IF) 19:23.08