RIVERTON – The Riverton Wolverines have had a pretty exceptional Cross Country team over the years, but despite the talent that has overflowed from the boys and girls at Riverton High School (RHS) have not recorded a state championship victory in the sport. Don’t get me wrong, they have been close individually and team-wise multiple times, so is this the year that longtime curse is broken?

Well, if you believe so then you probably believe in Riverton’s senior Kaden Chatfield, as well as the rest of their team. Chatfield has been tearing it up in track and field along with his cross country career, but with this year being his final year in Wolverine red-and-black there’s a different feeling to his upcoming season. 

“Success feeds success,” Chatfield said before going on a run early Wednesday morning. “One of my goals this year is to be a better leader, maybe to be a little more selfless. I’m a pretty selfish runner sometimes.”

The RHS senior has already done everything you would want him to do as a coach. He’s broken multiple school records, he keeps his head to the ground and barrels through every event, and he has a passion for simply running as if he was a young Forrest Gump. Almost every day, no matter the weather or the time, you can expect to see Chatfield running somewhere to get his miles in. 

It’s all in an effort to do something that would set him apart from the other legendary runners that have passed through the halls of RHS, win the state title. 

“I’d definitely like to win state in cross country for sure [but] this season I’d also like to secure my future at a college as well,” Chatfield said. “I’ve gotten a few small offers from the East coast but I don’t have much interest in the East coast.”

Chatfield continues to impress in every race, no matter whether it’s Track and Field or Cross Country (p/c Carl Cote)

Even while looking at the future it’s not hard for Chatfield to also peep into the past for some encouragement. For instance, he can look at the fact he owns nearly every long-distance running record in RHS history, including the 5000-meter race with his time of 16:01.1, nearly a full minute ahead of the previous record (16:57.6 – Devin Oldman, 2009). 

On top of that impressive feat, Chatfield also owns the school’s 1600-meter record (4:24.83) and the 3200-meter record (9:41.3) in outdoor track and field while simultaneously owning the indoor track and field records in the same events (4:31.56 and 9:37.75, respectively). But, there’s one record that Chatfield still has his sights set on, almost as much as winning a state championship. 

“I’m for sure trying to break those 3200 and 1600 record again, but I would like to get the 800-meter record too,” Chatfield said with a smile. “Alex Truax is pretty solid in the 800 [so] it’ll be interesting to see which one of us gets the record in that next year.”

Truax, who currently owns Riverton’s 800-meter record in outdoor track and field (1:58.56), just barely beat out Chatfield (1:58.78) for it this past spring but now their attention is turned to cross country and the 5000-meter run. At the moment, Chatfield’s record is only three spaces ahead of Truax (17:14.30) but both seniors could easily go back and forth this year during their final fall semester in Riverton. 

“I think the kids will definitely be trying to prove something this year,” Chatfield said about Riverton’s chances. “It’ll be interesting … We have a lot of freshmen and other underclassmen who want to be kind of like Alex and I, they want to break records. I think only time will tell.”

Chatfield, Truax and the rest of the Wolverines and Lady Wolverines will have their first cross country meet of the 2023 season on Friday, August 25 at Casper Mountain, just two weeks before hosting the annual Berry Bryant Invitational. The home course meet has seen Chatfield win it once, last season, as well as a top-ten finish during his freshman year (17:35.10) with the 2021 season not featuring the Berry Bryant Invite. Even though Chatfield is looking  to go back-to-back at the Berry Bryant, it’s never been a huge goal for him to show off in front of the home crowd. 

“Over the past few years, the Berry Bryant has been like two days before a big meet so we haven’t taken it that seriously,” Chatfield explained. “It’s been more of a workout than anything but this year could be a little different, who knows?”

The Berry Bryant takes place Thursday, September 7 and is a week before any other meet for Chatfield and the Wolverines. Could that be the day we see Chatfield, or possibly Truax, break the school’s freshly-set record in the 5000m? Or could the RHS seniors climb into the top-forty nationwide during some other time of the season? 

As Chatfield said, “only time will tell.”

By: Shawn O’Brate