WELLSVILLE — It was a banner day for Preston at the annual Cache-Box cross country meet.
Perhaps a better description would be a dominating day. Both the girls and boys left no doubt who the best teams were at the nine-team meet Wednesday afternoon at the American West Heritage Center.
In both varsity races, the Indians had good pack running and near the front. Edison Leffler won the boys 5K in 16 minutes, 17 seconds to lead Preston, while McKinley Scott took second in the girls race in 19:31 as the top finisher for the Indians.
“It was a great day for both of our teams,” Preston head coach Tyler Jones said. “... Edison has come into his own this year. Today he was fantastic.”
It was the first-ever team title for the Preston girls at the Cache-Box. For the boys, it was the fourth, and Leffler, a senior, has been a part of each one. That’s right, Preston has won the last four boys titles.
“I feel like our team is pretty competitive, but we also work together really well,” Leffler said.
“It’s motivating to work with them. It’s fun to come down here knowing we have won it, but we don’t really have a history because we hadn’t won it before four years ago. It’s pretty exciting to come down here and win.”
Preston also won the junior varsity team girls title. Ridgeline took the JV boys top place.
How dominating were the Indians?
On the boys side, the top five finishers that count toward the team total were among the top eight finishers. Preston’s sixth and seventh finisher were also among the top 17.
“Our fourth guy, Gage Cordner, has stepped it up,” Leffler said. “... He has been doing really good for us, which is awesome. We kind of have a target on our backs from taking state last year. I think our four and five will be the secret to winning at state.”
The Indians just missed a perfect score of 15 as they recorded a team score of 23. Green Canyon took second at 94, followed by Bear River (102), Sky View (126), Mountain Crest (141), Logan (142), Ridgeline (152), Box Elder (152) and West Side (216)
“Last year we won state and have five of our top seven back,” Jones said. “The boys have really taken the challenge to continue to have the success we have had. They take pride in coming down and running against great competition in Cache Valley.”
The Preston girls top five were among the first 14 to cross the finish line. The sixth and seventh runners were in the top 26.
“We have a great team this year,” Scott said. “We have mostly freshmen and sophomores and one other senior. ... I think this team can do well at state.”
In the girls team scoring, Preston finished with 33 points to second-place Ridgeline at 56. Bear River was third with 92, followed by Green Canyon (118), Mountain Crest (145), Box Elder (148), West Side (164), Logan (176) and Sky View (199).
“The girls are doing great,” Jones said. “This is huge because our girls had never won Cache-Box. They are getting better and better. Our pack time is getting better. It was a good overall team effort. ... McKinley has been great for us all year. She is running well.”
In the final race of the day — there were five as the JV boys were split into two — Leffler quickly got to the front after a Box Elder runner charged out on the opening gun. He continued to put distance between himself and the rest of the field.
The senior came into the race hoping to break the 16-minute barrier. He was second a year ago, behind a teammate.
“I didn’t quite get my goal time,” Leffler said. “I just wanted to work hard because I know the other guys in Idaho will be. I just don’t want to slack off at all.”
Sky View’s Isaiah Crookston was near the front most of the race. About halfway through, he moved into second and held strong. The Bobcat junior finished in 16:38, seven seconds in front of Preston’s Garrett Hale (16:45).
“It felt really good today. It was really fun to run with the two Preston kids,” Crookston said. “... My goal was to beat my previous time and I think I did that.”
Ridgeline’s Tate Hickman was fourth in 16:49. Three of the next finishers were from Preston in Gage Cordner (16:51), Luke Visser (17:00) and Reynger Davidsavor (17:09). Green Canyon’s Jackson Monz was between two Preston runners, coming in seventh in 17:07. Rounding out the top 10 were Mountain Crest’s Hyrum Staffanson in ninth (17:17) and Green Canyon’s Dylan Chambers (17:18).
The girls race had a much more thrilling finish.
Ridgeline’s Lexi Patrick led early. Scott moved into first at about a mile into the race with Patrick right on her heels. The Preston runner was able to build an 11-second lead.
“The first mile I wanted to settle back, but stay in contact with the leaders,” Scott said. “The second mile I pushed it and the third I was just hanging on.”
Mountain Crest’s Abigail Case has been using different strategies the last few races, but didn’t enter the Cache-Box with any sort of game plan.
“I just came out here with a mindset of wanting to finish well,” Case said. “Halfway through I just told myself to keep going and see what I could get.”
The Mustang senior was back in seventh early on and moved her way up to third by the midway point. In the final half mile she made a move and got into second, then powered her way up a the final hill on the course. Scott was in sight.
Case was able to run down the Preston runner and cross first in 19:29. She and Scott were just outside the top 10 last year.
“I went for it, there was nothing to lose,” Case said. “... I just kept telling myself to keep going. I’ve never had the energy to sprint at the end at Cache-Box like this year.”
Behind Case and Scott in the top 10 were Preston’s Angelie Scott (19:40), Bear River’s Liz Phillips (19:47), Preston’s Oakley Reid (19:48), West Side’s Aubrie Barzee (19:54), Patrick (19:59), Ridgeline’s Sydnee Walton (20:01), Preston’s Elly Jeppsen (20:06) and Green Canyon’s Katie Latvakoski (20:19).
Sky View’s Tyler McUne won the boys JV race with a time of 18:07. The JV girls race was won by Preston’s Tenley Kirkbride in 21:20.