LEWISTON — Jett Lucas and Nikolai Braedt finished 11th and 12th respectively, to lead the Sandpoint boys cross country team to a highly respectable fourth place finish among 24 teams on Saturday at the Inland Empire Challenge in Lewiston, on the same Lewiston Orchards course they’ll race on for districts and state.
The boys team continues to show depth, posting the strongest pack time in school history at 16:33. They placed 2nd among Idaho 4A schools behind 2017 State Champions and current No. 1 ranked Idaho Falls, and were just three points off of 5A power Mountain View.
All seven varsity boys set personal records, with multiple moving up on the all-time top 25 5K school record list. Lucas clocked a 16:18 to move to No. 4, while Braedt finished one second behind for No. 5. Ephriam Weisz was back in his first race since being sick and ran a 16:32 for 17th place, moving up to No. 9. Gabe Merithew was next in 16:50 in 24th place, Brady Nelsen was 29th in 16:55, Kieran Wilder was 33rd in 17:02 and Seth Graham was 39th in 17:09.
“Every one of the boys stepped up their performance to a new level today. They were focused on running as a pack and pushing each other to a different level, which is what it takes to compete at the state level,” said Bulldog head coach Matt Brass. “We have more work to do, but I am incredibly proud of how hard they pushed each other, and the results were fantastic.”
The Bulldog girls improved on last week’s performance by placing 7th overall, with four girls running under 21 minutes for the first time this year. They packed up tight through the two mile mark before making the final push in mile three for the finish.
Niah Brass continued to lead the girls pack, running a 20:14 for 36th place out of the field of 135 runners. She was followed closely behind by teammates Chloe Braedt, who ran a 20:18 and moved to No. 20 on the team’s 5K list, and Davidson ran a 20:22 to move onto the list at No. 21. Corina Wallace ran a 20:39 personal record for 47th, Bionce Vincent ran a 21:03, Mesa Keating a PR of 21:37, and Megan Oulman a PR of 22:00 to round out the top seven.
The Bulldogs were three points off of 3A state contender Timberlake, and beat league rivals Moscow and Lakeland in the first chance racing against both league rivals this year. Moscow kept the scoring close with a solid performance, and will be the team to beat for another Regional title.
“Everyone took advantage of our opportunity to race and review this course today, noting what we will adjust and how we will move forward into the races on Oct. 18,” said girls coach Angie Brass. “Solid pack running, smart course strategy with the volume of corners in this venue and grit will be key. The battle for the Regional Championships will be an exciting one to watch as both teams are running extremely well.”
The Boys JV team cruised to a 3rd place finish, even without one of their top runners who was out for the meet. Tyler McNamee continued running strong with a blistering 17:21 on the course, placing 9th overall in the largest race of the day with 213 runners. Freshman Trey Clark ran a PR 17:37 for 14th place, followed by a huge PR by Jason Leedle (17:54, 20th), Sloan Woodward (17:59, 23rd), and Gabe Christman (18:06, 27th). In all 19 out of 21 runners on the Sandpoint JV team set personal records. They have one more race left in their stellar season.
The Girls JV team placed 5th in the meet while again missing one of their top runners. Chloe Pierce stepped up again this week to lead the squad with a 23:32. She was followed by Elisa Eastly in 24:07, Kenzie Suhy-Gregoire in 24:16, Lydia Nelsen in 24:45 and Valerie Wickboldt in 24:45. The girls should have everyone back for their next race.
In all, Sandpoint had 31 individual personal records and are ranked first going into the Regional Championships on Oct. 18 at the Lewiston Orchards course.