SODA SPRINGS — Saturday’s annual Cardinal Classic provided a glimpse into the level that Idaho high school cross-country has attained in recent seasons.

The varsity individual titles went to two nationally ranked runners--Star Valley (Wyo.) junior Peter Visser and Mountain View senior Lexy Halladay--in a meet featuring two nationally ranked teams and numerous powerhouse programs from three states. Additionally, the top four boys teams were all recent state trophy winners from eastern Idaho and the top four girls teams included two eastern Idaho teams and three recent state champions.

Two-time defending 4A boys state champion Idaho Falls claimed the varsity boys team title for the second consecutive year, earning five medals and winning 59-92 over Preston. Junior Mitchell Athay led the effort with a second-place finish in 16:31.65, his best time and place at the meet in his career. After battling for the lead early, Athay moved into second behind Visser upon passing Pocatello’s Shane Gard.

“I was hoping to win, but getting second to such a good runner as Peter is really great,” Athay said. “I didn’t think I’d break 17.”

Athay said he enjoys meets like the Cardinal Classic, which has traditionally drawn top tier teams from Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming. The presence of District 3’s Boise, Mountain View and Centennial added to this year’s competition.

“I love it,” Athay said. “It’s good to see your opponents and see how they race.”

This year’s turnout made I.F.’s repeat team title all the more meaningful to longtime Idaho Falls head coach Alan McMurtrey, who said he anticipates competition to continue heating up between the Tigers and 4A compatriots Preston and Pocatello.

“We know we will be getting more of that this season,” McMurtrey said. “It’s gonna be tight. I’m really happy with all our performances today.”

Pocatello was 13 points behind Preston, placing third with a score of 105, while Madison was fourth with 153.

Halladay furthermore added to Saturday’s prestige by becoming the first girl to run sub-19 minutes on the course, winning in 18:40.61 to break her course record of 19:00.4 from 2017. Saturday was the first meet of the season for Idaho’s three-time defending 5A girls individual state champion, who has started making college visits.

“I wanted to break 19,” Halladay said. “I wasn’t really happy with my time here the last time. I knew this course was going to be super hard. (Running) 18:40, I’m pretty happy with that.”

Halladay’s course record prompted much chatter, particularly among those who have frequently been to the Cardinal Classic. Among the numerous impressed onlookers was longtime Soda Springs head coach and meet director Jeff Horsley, who watched Halladay extend her lead.

“’Dude, she might break 19. She’s gonna shatter it,’” Horsley recalled thinking.

Skyline junior Sariah Harrison, District 6’s top girl placer upon finishing third behind Halladay and Boise’s Rosina Machu in 19:54.18, shared Horsley’s awestruck reaction to Halladay’s time on a course that several runners have described as genuine cross-country.

“She’s one of those runners I just look up to,” Harrison said. “Lexy knows how to race against herself. I’m learning to do that.”

Harrison has claimed three consecutive top-three finishes at the Cardinal Classic, placing third in 2017 and winning last year. Saturday’s race was the most stacked of her three years, however. She was in the top-10 early in the race before moving into third past Boise’s Mikella Tobin in the forested part of the course.

“I was looking forward to this all week,” Harrison said. “I love this meet.”

Defending 5A state champion Boise won the team title with a score of 36 thanks to four top-six finishes while fellow nationally-ranked team Mountain View, which placed third in 5A last year, took second with 76. Idaho Falls edged Skyline for the second consecutive meet, placing third with a score of 122 to Skyline’s 147.

2019 Cardinal Classic XC

Cardinal Classic

Saturday at Kelly Park, Soda Springs

full results on snakerivertiming.com

Varsity boys

Team scores: 1. Idaho Falls 59, 2. Preston 92, 3. Pocatello 105, 4. Madison 153, 5. Star Valley 172, 6. Boise 201, 7. Mountain View (ID) 224, 8. Skyline (ID) 284, 9. Highland 288, 10. Blackfoot 308, 11. Evanston 321, 12. Logan 326, 13. Rock Springs 336, 14. Century 350, 15. Mountain Home 391, 16. Soda Springs 445, 17. Gooding 447, 18. West Side 45, 19. Shelley 483, 20. Snake River 505, 21. Teton 538, 22. Centennial 541, 23. Hillcrest 576, 24. Grace 692, 25. Bear Lake 707, 26. Rich 790

Individual results (medalists only)

1. Peter Visser, Star Valley, 16:20.40; 2. Mitchell Athay, Idaho Falls, 16:31.65; 3. Dallin Bird, Pocatello, 16:44.47; 4. Alex Rasmussen, Logan, 16:46.71; 5. Jared Harden, Highland, 16:58.36; 6. Will Dixon, Madison, 16:59.39; 7. Zac Bright, Idaho Falls, 17:00.98; 8. Jessie Loveland, Star Valley, 17:01.16; 9. Riley Reid, Preston, 17:05.84; 10. Sam Jeppsen, Preston, 17:11.65; 11. Dawson Crofts, Evanston, 17:13.49; 12. Joseph Ereaux, Idaho Falls, 17:14.66; 13. Shane Gard, Pocatello, 17:16.50; 14. Travis Harmon, Mountain Vie, 17:19.60; 15. Ryan Stutz, Madison, 17:24.72; 16. Bryton Zohner, Skyline (ID), 17:27.55; 17. Edison Leffler, Preston, 17:34.67; 18. Porter Elison, Idaho Falls, 17:38.96; 19. Jacob Criddle, Mountain Home, 17:39.08; 20. Brevin Vaughan, Pocatello, 17:41.86; 21. Jesse Halladay, Mountain Vie, 17:43.81; 22. Isaac Corgatelli, Idaho Falls, 17:45.30; 23. Jonathan Frew, Shelley, 17:48.09; 24. Garrett Hale, Preston, 17:48.44; 25. Jayson Caudell, Rock Springs, 17:49.12

Varsity girls

Team scores: 1. Boise 36, 2. Mountain View (ID) 76, 3. Idaho Falls 122, 4. Skyline (ID) 147, 5. Centennial 174, 6. Soda Springs 222, 7. Evanston 243, 8. Madison 260,9. Bear Lake 291, 10. Highland 296, 11. Star Valley 301, 12. Shelley 310, 13. Pocatello 340, 14. Mountain Home 364, 15. Preston 393, 16. West Side 403, 17. Century 409, 18. Blackfoot 493, 19. Snake River 510, 20. Hillcrest 512, 21. Teton 517, 22. Logan 534, 23. Rockland 617, 24. Grace 664

Individual results (medalists only)

1. Lexy Halladay, Mountain Vie, 18:40.61; 2. Rosina Machu, Boise, 19:32.01; 3. Sariah Harrison, Skyline (ID), 19:54.18; 4. Mikella Tobin, Boise, 19:59.82; 5. Molly Elliott, Boise, 20:06.45; 6. Jamie Hamlin, Boise, 20:24.73; 7. Morgan French, Mountain Vie, 20:27.63; 8. Aubrey Thueson, Centennial, 20:30.69; 9. Macy Olson, Skyline (ID), 20:33.15; 10. Elli Kelsey, Bear Lake, 20:35.85; 11. Hannah Kohler, Idaho Falls, 20:43.04; 12. Allison Lemons, Idaho Falls, 20:46.34; 13. Brooklyn Lowry, Mountain Vie, 20:49.27; 14. Elena Jensen, Lyman, 20:54.81; 15. Heidi Barton, Evanston, 20:56.68; 16. Elanor Eddington, Idaho Falls, 20:57.86; 17. Megan Morrin, Madison, 20:58.61; 18. Brynlee Simmons, Soda Springs, 21:02.88; 19. Josi Kelsey, Bear Lake, 21:07.33; 20. Lydia Nance, Boise, 21:10.03; 21. Charlize Lawson, Mountain Home, 21:16.96; 22. Sophie Stubbs, Centennial, 21:20.26; 23. Elise Kelsey, Bear Lake, 21:24.71; 24. Ava Patterson, Century, 21:26.50; 25. Kortlyn Lowry, Mountain Vie, 21:27.71

Marlowe Hereford is a sports reporter for the Post Register. Contact her at 542-6772 and find her on Twitter: @mwhereford.

Marlowe Hereford has worked for the Post Register since August 2011. She has covered 11 different high school sports, Olympic sports and recreational sports.