The Bonners Ferry Badgers concluded their season at the Port Neuf Wellness Complex in Pocatello for the Idaho 3A State Championships. Cold temperatures in the high desert in the weeks prior to left snowdrifts on the course, icy patches, but sunshine in the days prior led to ideal racing conditions that firmed up ground and PRs (Personal Records) and SRs (Season Records) for many competitors.
At 4,700-plus feet in elevation fast starters tended to pay for their aggressiveness in the second half of the race.
The Lady Badgers started the day at 11:15 in the morning and got off to a quick start behind front-runner Ceci Roemer. In her first ever state competition Roemer, a freshman who also won her first district medal the week prior, threw down a season best 21:29 for 30th place. Next for the Badgers was sophomore Camille Ussher, who crossed the line at 23:10.
Senior Emily Gorino was next at 23:30. Jenna Brooks and Lauren Onstott ran near each other for the majority of the race and crossed at 24:46 and 25:16 respectively (a PR for Onstott). Serenity Fahey rounded out the Badgers with a time of 25:39 in her final state competition.
Serenady Price from Sugar-Salem took the state championship with a time of 19:29, leading her team to a state title as well. The Timberlake Tigers took second place, beating third place Filer by only eight points in a gutsy performance. The Lady Badgers finished ninth out of 10 complete teams, beating Weiser.
Senior Abby Gorton was unable to compete due to the injury she sustained at districts. Her coaches and teammates wish her lots of love and support as she recovers in preparation to defend her state track titles in the 1600m and 3200m.
It was a tough way to end the season, especially with the bitter taste of not having Abby be able to run. The hardest part of the whole weekend was having to explain to everyone why the fastest girl in the state wasn't going to be able to have her day. It breaks my heart thinking about how a kid who does all the right things and is so humble and hard working had her season end that way.
At 12:45 the boys toed the line in the last race of the season for Bonners Ferry.
The senior-heavy but relatively inexperienced boys team struggled to get out of the gate early. A hard charging, determined Hunter Smith, however, put himself in prime position early. Many competitors in the top 20 locked in either SRs or PRs, but Hunter, despite not running his fastest time, still managed a solid 17:17, good for 19th place and back-to-back state medals. Hunter also beat rival Logan David of CdA Charter after struggling against him all season.
Next for Bonners Ferry was Taylor DeFalco, also a freshman fresh off a district medal, who punched in a solid 18:56. Team captain Austin Donn, senior, ran a season best 19:05 in his final race. Levi Bonnell was next, working his way from the back for a 20:11. The final Badgers across were Brady Hinthorn, Justin Mendenhall, and Matthew Donn, coming in at 21:47, 21:49 and 21:51 respectively, a PR for Donn.
The slow start doomed the Badgers to 11th place in team scoring, a last place finish. The absence of Connor Alexander, injured earlier in the season, also hampered the Badgers scoring. Coaches and teammates also wish Connor a speedy recovery as he prepares for his sophomore track season in the spring.
Logan Hunt of Timberlake ran a masterpiece of a race, finishing with a PR and a state championship. Unfortunately for the Tigers, they missed the sixth place trophy by three points. Sugar-Salem claimed the boy’s team championship.
In spite of the injuries that hurt their state aspirations, the Badgers had a memorable season. Nearly every athlete had a PR at least once and the team brought home multiple top two trophies, including boys and girls second place finishes at Coeur d’Alene, and both teams won at the home invite, ringing the victory bell at Kenny Mendenhall Stadium.
Qualifying for the state championships also confirms the Badgers right to say they were among the best in the state this year, despite the disheartening finish.
Bonners Ferry will graduate six varsity runners, three boys and three girls, meaning the majority of each team is set to return next season. The future of BFHS Cross Country, as always, is bright.