Injuries have hampered Preston’s boys cross country team for much of the season, but some bad luck in that department didn’t prevent the Indians from putting on a performance to remember at the 4A District 4-5 Championships.

Preston placed all seven of its varsity runners in the top 20 en route to defending its title in the 10-team competition on Thursday at the Portneuf Wellness Center in Pocatello, Idaho. Preston finished with 37 points to rival Pocatello’s 50. The two teams are the second- and third-ranked squads at the 4A level.

“It was a great accomplishment,” Preston head coach Tyler Jones said in an interview with the Idaho State Journal. “Pocatello and us have both been really close together and have had some great battles. They have a great program, so I thought we had one of the days where we ran better than we have all year, and we picked a good day to do it on.”

The meet was an especially memorable one for Preston’s Riley Reid, who edged a harrier from Jerome for the individual crown. The senior covered the 5K course in 15 minutes, 30.8 seconds.

“(Reid’s) a talented kid,” Jones said. “He’s kind of battled shin splints a lot of the season, and the last couple weeks he’s finally gotten healthy.”

Sam Jeppsen was the bronze medalist for Preston with a time of 15:38, while teammate Edison Leffler also broke the 16-minute barrier and placed sixth with a time of 15:50. Jeppsen and Reid beat Pocatello’s Dallin Bird, who has been the district’s top performer all season long and placed third at the 4A State Championships in 2018.

All seven of Preston’s varsity harriers completed the course in less than 17 minutes. Josh Harrison was 13th (16:24), followed by Garrett Hale (14th, 16:25), Dawson Leffler (16th, 16:26) and Reynger Davidsavor (20th, 16:39).

It was also a great day for the Preston girls, which finished second, only three points behind 4A powerhouse Twin Falls. Additionally, Preston sophomore Andie Bell was the silver medalist. Bell crossed the line in 18:44 and beat the bronze medalist by nearly 30 seconds.

Bell is also a starting defender on Preston’s soccer team. The Indians were one win away from qualifying for the eight-team state tournament, which is taking place right now.

“I just love soccer,” Bell said. “It’s just like my fun sport. I do it because I love it. But this sport, I’m really good at, so I keep trying to do it when I can.”

Bell was joined in the top 10 by teammate Mickayla Robertson, who was ninth (19:47). Also securing a spot in the top 20 for the Indians were Paige Shumway (16th, 20:35) and Alyssa Crowther (19th, 20:37).

Twin Falls’ Mattalyn Geddes is arguably the top prep female runner in all of Idaho, and she destroyed the competition with a stunning time of 17:27.

WEST SIDE

Likewise, it was a solid day for the Pirates at the 2A Fifth District Championships, which also took place at the Portneuf Wellness Center. For starters, West Side’s Jacob Moffat was the boys medalist for the second straight year. The senior clocked in at 16:29.

West Side teammate Brentan Noreen was the bronze medalist and also broke the 17-minute barrier with his time of 16:57. The West Side boys, like the Preston boys and girls, punched their ticket to state as they finished second with 37 points — only 10 behind 2A power Soda Springs.

“It means a lot to me to take the title of district champ once again,” Moffat said. “I have worked hard for it and have been excited for districts and state all year. I haven’t ran as well this season as I had hoped, but I won’t let it bring me down. And it’s great to see my teammate Brentan get third. He’s worked his butt off this season and has improved a ton.”

West Side’s next three performers earned a spot in the top 12 in Bradyn Noreen (10th, 17:26), Gideon Beutler (11th, 17:42) and Alex Winward (12th, 17:47).

On the girls side, the Pirates finished third behind arguably the top two teams in 2A in champion Soda Springs and Bear Lake. Natalia Lewis shattered the 5K girls school record for West Side and placed fifth with a time of 19:37. Ashlyn Willis was eighth for the Pirates (20:10), and Christina Tripp was 11th (21:04).

Lewis and Willis qualified for state as individuals. This is West Side’s best girls squad in recent memory.

“The girls team has improved so much this season,” Moffat said. “A lot of those girls are my friends and several are my best friends. It’s been so amazing so see how hard they’ve worked. ... I have to say that coach Stacy Olsen has done as amazing job. She is one of the best people and is perfect for (these) girls.”

jturner@hjnews.com Twitter: hjtrebek

Jason Turner is a sports reporter for The Herald Journal. He can be reached at jturner@hjnews.com or 435-792-7237.

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