By: Shawn O’Brate
BOISE, ID – Last Saturday marked the return of the Nike Cross Regionals (NXR) Northwest meet in Idaho, featuring quite a few Wyoming student-athlete distance runners.
Riverton High School (RHS) was one of two Wyoming schools to boast a champion at the end of the day as junior Kaden Chatfield won the Boys’ 5,000 meter Open Invitational #2 division with a time of 16:01.1, a new personal best for the superstar cross country runner.
The junior came in first just five seconds ahead of Calvin Hilton, a sophomore from Cheney, Washington. He also came in first ahead of another RHS junior, Alexzander Truax (17:14.3), as well as teammate Diego Lobatos from Lander Valley High School (LVHS) who finished with a time of 17:14:9.
Chatfield’s first-place finish helped propel the Wolverine Distance Club to seventh in the team point total (284) in the division, 200 points behind the “Remain Curious Project 2” team out of Meridian, Idaho.
All three runners were running under the umbrella of the Wolverine Distance Club, a group of cross country runners from around Fremont County that partake in tournaments after the official high school cross country season concludes.
Chatfield, Lobatos and Truax all raced alongside RHS junior Jacob Castro (17:34.6) and LVHS junior Reed McFadden (17:38.4) who has made a miraculous comeback after a serious injury in the spring left him in the hospital with a fractured skull and shoulder. Both of them helped the Wolverine Distance Club reach the top-seven in team points.
Wolverine Distance Club also featured familiar names like RHS freshman Kyler Heil, who led his JV level teammates in the Open Invitational #4 in Boise with a finishing time of 18:26.0, garnering a 24th-place finish. That finish was 14 spots ahead of RHS freshman Marshall Walton (19:05.0) and almost two minutes ahead of RHS sophomore Alex Bisbee (20:13.90).
The club also had LVHS seniors Darian Bell and Shayla Babits running for them. Bell finished with a time of 21:28.5 while Babits finished with a time of 21:51.8, a new personal best in the 5,000-meter category. RHS junior Alexis Whiteplume was in the same category as Babits and Bell, with Whiteplume finishing the race in 23:30.1.
Perhaps the most notable name to run with the Wolverine Distance Club in Idaho was 3A girls’ State Champion, Ameya Eddy, the sophomore out of Lander Valley who finished the Wyoming Indian state title course in 19:29.21 for her fourth-straight first-place finish. The competition in Boise was much more difficult than just the competition from around Wyoming though, as Eddy finished 57th in the NXR Championship with a time of 19:18.3.
For comparison, the other state title holders from last month’s Cross Country State Championship also finished outside of the top. For example, 3A State Champion Owen Burnett out of Kemmerer finished in 21st place with a time of 15:38.7 and 4A State Champion, Habtamu Wetzel from Star Valley, finished 37th.
On the girls’ side, 4A State Champion Sydney Morrell out of Cheyenne Central finished the NXR Championship with a time of 19:03.9, 15 seconds ahead of Eddy.
Cody’s freshman Kylee Silva was the other Wyoming student-athlete to walk out of Boise with a first-place trophy as she finished the 5K course with a time of 20:41.0, seven seconds better than anyone else in the JV girls’ race.
Congratulations to all the girls and boys who represented Fremont County and the whole state of Wyoming in Boise last weekend!