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Another week, another strong performance from Preston’s cross country program.

The Indians traveled to Pocatello, Idaho, for the prestigious Bob Conley Invitational and left with a pair of first-place trophies, plus another of the second-place variety. The annual meet was contested Thursday afternoon at the Portneuf Wellness Complex.

The Preston girls reigned supreme in the 18-team junior varsity division and the 13-team Varsity A Division, which features teams from Idaho’s 4A and 5A classifications. Additionally, the Preston boys were the runner-ups in the 14-team Varsity A field, behind only defending 5A state champion Idaho Falls, which is arguably the best team in all of Idaho for the fourth straight year.

Preston has now competed in seven invitationals this season and the boys and girls have won four of them apiece, plus both teams have each placed second twice and third in the other one. Both Preston squads will quite possibly be favored at the 4A State Championships later this month.

The Preston girls narrowly missed out of a 4A state title a year as they were edged by Skyline by five points, 62-67. The Indians exacted a measure of revenge Thursday with 68 points to the Grizzlies’ 75.

Preston put four of its harriers in the top 14, led by McKinley Scott’s fifth-place time of 18 minutes, 58 seconds. Younger sister Angelie Scott finished seventh for the Indians with a time of 19:08. Oakley Reid was 14th for Preston (19:34), immediately followed by teammate Elly Jeppsen (19:39).

Skyline’s Nelah Roberts pulled away from the competition en route to her winning time of 18:10. Roberts is the reigning 4A state medalist. There were 89 athletes in this race.

It was also a solid team effort from the Preston boys, who had two in the top eight and four in the top 18. However, all five of Idaho Falls’ scoring runners placed in the top 15 as the Tigers limited their point tally to 46 — — 21 fewer than the Indians, who beat third-place Rigby by 30 points.

Defending 4A state champion Preston was once again paced by Edison Leffler, who occupied the No. 4 spot on the podium. Leffler covered the 5K course in 15:43. Fellow senior Garrett Hale placed eighth for the Indians and clocked in at 16:04.

Preston’s Reynger Davidsor was 17th and he was immediately followed by teammate Gage Cordner. The two were credited with times of 16:28 and 16:30, respectively. Preston’s Luke Visser also broke the 17-minute barrier with his 16:47, which was good enough for 25th place.

Idaho Falls sophomore Luke Athay was the medalist and he completed the race, which was comprised of 90 runners, in 15:05.

Not only did the Preston girls beat all comers in the JV division, they also had two of the top three placers in champion Maren Leffler (20:15) and bronze medalist Alyssa Crowther (20:26). Preston tallied 60 points to runner-up Sugar-Salem’s 72. The Preston girls captured the varsity the JV titles at last week’s Cache-Box Invitational.

It was also a solid performance by both West Side teams. The boys finished fifth out of 17 programs in the Varsity B Division, while the girls were sixth out of 15. The B Division was comprised of team’s in Idaho’s 1A-3A classifications.

The Lady Pirates have arguably the best 1-2 punch at the 2A level in foreign exchange student Johanna Ebert and Aubrie Barzee, who is the reigning state track & field champion in the 1,600 and 3,2000 meters. Ebert, who is from Germany, was the runner-up Thursday and clocked in at 19:34, while Barzee crossed the finish line just two seconds later and was fourth overall.

Allie Black of Raft River was the medalist and ran a 19:23. Defending 3A state champion Sugar-Salem edged Malad for the team title, 103-107, while Snake River was a very close third (109). West Side finished with 160 points.

Meanwhile, the West Side boys were led by Braydn Noreen and Grant Clawson, who placed 19th and 20th with times of 17:27 and 17:28, respectively. The Pirates finished with 153 points, while champion Sugar-Salem, the reigning 3A state titleists, limited its point tally to 63.

There were 125 harriers in the boys B Division race and 108 in the girls.

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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