West Side volleyball district champs

West Side players and coaches pose for a photo after winning the 2A Fifth District volleyball tournament on Thursday in Dayton.

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A pair of West Side athletics programs accomplished one of their primary goals this week.

It started Wednesday when the West Side boys captured its first district championship in cross country in 11 years, and it continued Thursday when the top-ranked volleyball team reigned supreme at the district tournament and punched its ticket to the 2A State Championships.

It was a dominant performance by West Side’s boys cross country program, which outpointed perennial 2A state title contender Soda Springs, 38-57. Bear Lake was third with 68 points, immediately followed by Malad with 69. This meet was contested at Caribou Highlands Golf Course in Grace.

The Pirates placed three of their runners in the top six and all but one of these athletes will be back next season. In fact, West Side will return 11 of its top 12 placers from Wednesday’s meet in 2022.

“It was a much-needed win for us,” WS head coach Joseph Grimm said. “It’s been over 10 years since we won a district title. We have a ton of experienced runners returning next year. My hope is this will encourage them to continue to work hard through the next summer with high expectations for the foreseeable future.”

Grant Clawson led the way for the Pirates with his fourth-place time of 18 minutes, 0 seconds. Braydn Noreen was fifth for West Side (18:19), immediately followed by teammate Samuel Beutler, who is a senior. The other two harriers that factored into the Pirates’ team score were Kaden Telford (11th place, 19:18) and Koby Telford (12th, 19:22).

Soda Springs standout Kayden Gentry was the medalist and he covered the 5K course in 16:58. Bear Lake’s Elise Kelsey was triumphant in the girls competition with her time of 20:21.

The West Side girls finished third with 67 points, only six points shy of runner-up Malad (61). Soda Springs prevailed with 37 points, while Bear Lake was fourth with 69.

Once again, the Lady Pirates were paced by the formidable one-two punch of Johanna Ebert and Aubrie Barzee. Ebert, a foreign exchange student from Germany, finished third (20:52), and Barzee was fourth (20:54).

Keziah Westover clocked in at 22:49 and finished 21st for the West Side girls, while Letti Phillips was 22nd (22:57) and Eliza Olson 26th (23:20).

The 2A State Championships will take place next Saturday in Eagle. The West Side boys have a goal of bringing home a trophy, which would entail finishing in the top four.

VOLLEYBALL

West Side (27-3) hosted the district tourney and went undefeated. The defending 2A state champions clinched the title with a 3-1 victory over third-seeded Bear Lake on Thursday (31-29, 25-13, 19-25, 25-5). The Pirates also dispatched of the Bears in four sets on Wednesday.

The 2A State Championships will take place next Friday and Saturday at Lakeland High School. Bear Lake, which lost to West Side in five sets in the 2A title match a year ago, can punch its ticket by winning a state play-in match.

Meanwhile, third-seeded Preston was eliminated from the 4A Fifth District Tournament in nailbiting fashion by second-seeded Pocatello on Thursday by scores of 25-22, 25-14, 21-25, 20-25, 15-10. Poky also edged Preston on five sets on Tuesday.

Khloe Hobson finished with 16 kills for Preston, followed by Liz Harris with six. Dru Despain racked up four aces for the Indians.

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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