BONNERS FERRY — This year’s Badgers cross country team has faced an obstacle not found on any course: poor air quality due to the wildfire smoke. The team has managed to keep up its practices indoors during the worst days, and outdoors when safe to do so.
With the combination of training courses through the Brush Lake area and the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge during their outdoor training exercises, and recommended indoor training sessions, the team brought their best to their first non competitive meet, enabling them to set personal and team goals.
“It’s been challenging for us as coaches since we have the biggest team I’ve ever coached,” said Coach Tyler Warner. “We currently have 26 listed on our roster.”
The seniors on the team this year are captain Sam Gorton, Oscar Valladares, Conner Strickert, Emily Gorino, Mya Andrejzak, and Dave O’Connor. Returning members, Sam Gorton, Hunter Smith, Abby Gorton, Austin Donn, Serenity Fahey, Lauren Onstott, Ella Huggins, and Erin Dineen, also add both experience and guidance to the team.
With an influx of new team members coming in from the middle school and those new to the area, there are several additions to the Badger’s cross country team.
Camille Ussher is a new addition from the middle school and finished in second place during the fundraising event last week. Madi McIntyre, who recently moved from Omaha, Nebraska, came in third during that event, while Mya Andrejzak and Emily Gorino finished strong, proving their competitiveness for the team. Corinna Tye, Elizabeth Bourassa, Reianna Brooks, and Liliana Brinkman also joined the team this season.
Connor Alexander and Levi Bonnell moved up from middle school to join the team as well as Ty Grigg from Garden Valley, Idaho, all of whom displayed strong competitiveness throughout the practices and the fundraising event. Connor Strickert is also a newcomer to the team, showing heart and promise as well as Tyler Lucas and previous track sprinter, Oscar Valladeres, from Nevada.
Bonners Ferry hosts the 3A district meet this season, on Oct. 18, and the state meet is Oct. 27 in Lewiston.
“As far as our fit in the league I expect us to be competitive,” said Warner.
Looking at the teams in the region that would be the most competitive, Warner pointed out Timberlake and Priest River.
“I think we have depth that maybe those teams lack,” said Warner. “I expect us to finish top two or three in the league and earn a trip to state.”
The team has just begun on the first leg of the race to being the best in the district, and has shown the drive and focus to do so.