2013 Idaho XC Preview
The coming harrier season should be another banner one for the state of Idaho. There is plenty of talent in the senior classes but the underlying theme may be the precocious talent on the junior class. Leading the way will be Elijah Armstrong of Pocatello and Dwain Stucker of Meridian. Both won state titles as a sophomore and will be heavily favored to repeat. That said they are merely the apex of a pyramid of talent that has been burgeoning from the state in the past few years. A look at even the Foot Locker qualifiers since 2006 shows Idaho, though it is far smaller than its neighbor Oregon, well ahead of its rival in the past half plus decade. Idaho has seen three guys (Taylor Farnsworth in 2006, Cody Helbling in 2008-9 & Dallin Farnsworth in 2011) and two girls (Nicole Neilson in 2007 & Emily Nist in 2011) make it to San Diego while Oregon has but one, Taylor Wallace who qualified in 2007-8). That total is misleading as Kinsey Gomez, who barely missed in 2009 despite being tripped and breaking her wrist, and Elijah Armstrong (2012) were the top alternates in their years. It should noted that Elijah only faltered a bit very late in the race and it is still relatively rare for a sophomore to make it to Foot Locker in its over three decades of existence. It will not be a surprise if the state hails another national finalist this year.
On paper Elijah Armstrong is the top of the group after capturing titles his first two prep years. When he won as a freshman and in so doing defeated Erik Harris, who was national class in his own right, Harris lauded Elijah as “the finest freshman in state history”. That is high compliment especially since his friend Dallin Farnsworth was the same year and also a Foot Locker qualifier. He improved his time from 15:55 his freshman year to a state best 15:34 last year and followed that with a banner track campaign, which included success at New Balance. Armstrong won last season at Pocatello & the Tiger Grizz. He will be challenged by Sam Levora of Sandpoint, who placed second fifteen seconds behind him. Levora won the Clash in the Valley. He will have the advantage of working with his team mate Haydin & Dristan Herndon, who finished 4th & 5th respectively. With the addition of Elijah’s younger brother Malachi the Pocatello team will formidable. Malachi, though a beginning freshman is hardly a neophyte, garnered third at Foot Locker West in the 8th grade race. Other top ten returners are Alberto De Los Reyes of Caldwell, Jeremy Stark of Twin Falls & Daniel Elia of Bishop Kelly, who rounded out the top ten in 4A.
Following in the footsteps of Elijah is his young team mate Rachel McGovern, who annexed the crown as a freshman with better than half a minute to spare. With her closest pursuer, Jasmine Nesbitt of Jerome graduating, McGovern, who won during the season at Curtis, would appear to be prohibitive favorite, whoever the third through fifth runners return and a good summer of base mileage can make a world of difference. Lina Schell of Midlothian, Caitlin Elgan of Presto and Jocelyn Barber of Skyview should prove to be worthy adversaries. Also worthy of consideration are the 8th through 11th finishers in the person of Erika Schell of Midlothian, Tori Pinnock of Rigby, Chandra Smith of Emmett & Anna Kreslins of Bishop Kelly. Kreslins leads a Bishop Kelly team that has five of its top six runners returning.
Idaho may also have a national presence with Dwain Stucker returning for Meridian. As a sophomore he won the Clash in the Valley on his way to the 5A title. More impressive than winning the crown was that in so doing it he improved upon his time at state from 16:46 to 15:42. That is quite a decrease in time and augers well for the coming season. With second place finisher Thomas Rigby graduating along with the third & fourth place finishers, Stucker would appear to be the class of the division. The top challenge on paper appears to be Jake Finney of Lake City, who came in fifth in 16:04. The third sophomore returning is Finney’s team mate Kyler Little, who placed sixth last fall. Jacob Davis of Capital could also make things interesting after taking seventh as a freshman in 16:15. The other top ten finishers hoping to improve are Jordon Wallin of Rocky Mountain (9th) and D’Artagnan Kilgore of Highland, who claimed tenth as a sophomore.
The contest for supremacy in the girls’ 5A division should be wild with the top four harriers all returning. Emily Hamlin of Boise looks to defend her crown along with her titles from Lewiston & Boise City. Josie Brown was second and leads the powerful Coeur D’Alene squad which must replace fifth place state finisher Punky Duran. Mikayla Malaspina of Vallivue was third last year and also annexed titles at Driscoll & at Bugtown. Malaspina gears her training towards Foot Locker, where she placed an impressive sixteenth at the West Regional as a freshman. Presli Hutchinson learned how it is done while watching her team mate Dallin Farnsworth as an underclassman. She improved to fourth last fall and also looks to defend her Tiger Grizz laurels. CDA will also have the services of Kara Story (6th), Emily Callahan (7th) & Krista Story (10th), while Borah’s Sara Christianson (8th) looks to continue that school’s great tradition, which includes Nicole Neilson and Karleigh Gempler. Rocky Mountain’s Paige Dilmore should not be discounted after placing 14th last fall as she was victorious at Camels Back. Another harrier to watch is Sam Mckinnon of Mountain View, who placed 17th last year. If vindication is the theme of this year’s race, then look for Sam. She showed great promise two years ago at the Jim Danner (co-opted to be the called the Pre-National but without the muck) by earning fifth in a stellar field that included Maddie Meyers, Jordyn Colter, Alexa Efraimson & Sara Tsai with a very solid 18:03. Injuries hobbled her shortly after that, bit, if Sam, can regain her health and her base, she is more than capable of a state championship. It should be a very fine field, which toes the line next November.
The top four girls on the 3A level all return with Olivia Redd of Sugar-Salem leading the way. Her winning time of 18:32 last year gave her a half minute margin over the competition, which included second place finisher Rachel Youren of Gooding. Harlie Sorrell of Parma and Indya Price of SS also return and hope to improve on their third and fourth place finishes. With Caleb Moosman of Teton graduating Joseph Van Orden of Snake River is the top returnee after his second place finish. Also back in the hunt for a crown are Gage Moore of Filer and Connor Stoddard of Sugar-Salem, who placed fourth & fifth respectively last year.
Sierra Manzer of Melba returns to defend her 2A title. Sierra also won the Nyssa Invitational in Oregon last year and then garnered sixteenth at Foot Locker West. Her impressive placement on the challenging Mt. SAC course suggest she will be tough to beat but 2012 second place finisher Kelsey Yamauchi of Soda Springs is also back to give it a whirl. Paul Ryan of Logon was second in the 2A boys with 16:15, as is third place finisher Leif Fredericks of Coeur D’ Alene but with Ryan only having been a sophomore last year that may be a tall order.
All this bodes well for harrier fans in Idaho, who should see many fine runners and stirring competition. It will hardly be a surprise if Idaho is once again representing at the prep Mecca of Foot Locker and we will be there to watch. No matter, what the aspirations, best wishes for a healthy season and a PR or two along the way.