BLACKFOOT — The district meet had different teams represented this year, but the individual and team champions remained the same for another year.

Skyline sophomore Sariah Harrison and Idaho Falls senior Zach Erikson repeated as individual champions at Thursday’s 4A District 6 meet with respective winning times of 18:05.4 and 15:31.82.

Harrison said she entered Thursday’s meet nervous, but not for herself.

“I was telling everybody, I’ve never been more nervous about everyone else but me,” Harrison said. “My sister just barely missed out on going to state last year and she’s a senior. I was super nervous about everyone else on my team.”

Harrison’s nerves were a bit justified considering how tight the girls team race ended up being. The Grizzlies’ top five girls went 1-2-4-11-14 compared to Idaho Falls’ 5-6-7-13-16 to reclaim their district team title 32-47 over the Tigers. The separation between the second and third place teams was also tight, with I.F. edging Shelley 47-53. The Russets had three top-10 finishers.

Skyline head coach Sean Schmidt said he anticipates another fast course at the 4A state meet Oct. 27 at lower elevation in Lewiston.

“I feel good about our girls’ performance today,” Schmidt said. “I hope that they can do it again next week. I.F.’s good, Bishop Kelly’s good. They’re gonna want to try and beat us. We’ve got the target on our backs (as defending state champions).”

Defending 4A state individual runner-up Harrison carries a 5k personal record of 18:14.4 into state (meet timer Brett Hill estimated that Thursday’s course was closer to three miles than 3.1). Nine Idaho girls have broken the 18-minute barrier as of Thursday, and Harrison intends to join them.

“I just want to crush my PR next week,” Harrison said. “I’m gonna break 18. I’m doing it.”

Leading I.F. to a 21-59 repeat team title win over Skyline, Erikson finished Thursday’s race to cheers from a contingent of orange and white clad fans. The defending 4A state individual runner-up said most of them were family members--his parents, grandparents, two of his siblings, a cousin and an aunt and uncle.

“They’re the best,” Erikson said, grinning. “I love them and they love me.”

Erikson and his I.F. teammates ran the state course two weeks ago at the Inland Empire Challenge, getting numerous personal records, claiming the boys team title and taking second in the girls standings. Erikson said he is feeling confident about the I.F. boys’ repeat state title bid and anticipates another tight battle with two-time 4A individual champion Nick Russell of Bishop Kelly. Russell and Erikson have raced each other three times already this season.

“We know each other really well,” Erikson said. “It’s a toss up. Either of us could win.”

I.F. head coach Alan McMurtrey said he’s never coached a team that had five runners finish in the top seven at districts like his boys did Thursday. McMurtrey described Lewiston’s state course as ‘out and back’ with tight turns and few trees.

“Our kids enjoyed it,” he said. “We’re definitely excited to be taking both teams and to see what happens.”

The top three teams, top 14 individual girls and top 14 individual boys from Thursday’s meet automatically advanced to the 4A cross-country state championships.


MADISON BOYS, RIGBY GIRLS WIN TEAM TITLES: At Freeman Park, the Rigby girls and Madison boys claimed team titles at the 5A District 5-6 cross-country championships.

Rigby’s Hailey Phillips, Morgan Dean, Makenna Bird, Hannah Bird and Rainey Gallup placed in the top 13 to give the Trojans the title 40-43 over Upper Valley rival and three-time defending district champion Madison. Phillips claimed the individual district title--the first of her career--in 19:38.6. Madison was led by returning state medalist Janessa Lemon’s fourth place finish in 20:57.2 and Thunder Ridge had two girls, Hailey Thueson (second in 20:09.7) and Jessica Moss (third in 20:41.2) in the top five.

Madison won its third consecutive boys district title, 31-51 over Rigby, thanks to top 11 finishes from Spencer Stutz, Will Dixon, Ryan Stutz, Morgan Crawford and Ethan Smith. Spencer Stutz led Madison with a second place finish in 17:04.3. Thunder Ridge’s Stetson Moss repeated as individual district champion in 16:36.6. Rigby was led by a fourth place finish by Quinn Kunz (17:56.9).

The top two teams, top 10 individual boys and top 10 individual girls from Thursday's meet advance to the 5A cross-country state championships.

Marlowe Hereford is a sports reporter for the Post Register. Contact her at 208-542-6772 and find her on Twitter at @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.

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