By: Shawn O’Brate
ETHETE – This Saturday one of the biggest events of the Fall sports season takes place right down the street, just outside of Wyoming Indian High School, as the Cross Country State Championships are being held on the beautiful hillside behind the Chiefs football field.
Every qualified distance runner from across the Cowboy State will be attempting to make their name known as the best-of-the-best on Saturday, starting with the 4A girls at 10:30 a.m. and ending with the 2A boys at 1:15.
In the 2A class, seven of the top ten female finishers of 2021 will be on the course again while seven boy runners from last year’s top ten will also be returning. This includes three-time defending state champion Grant Bartlett out of Saratoga, attempting the very arduous and nearly impossible four-peat of the 2A title in his four years of high school.
The Lady Chiefs’ Roberta Whiteplume, a junior, looks to come off of a strong showing at the Five Rivers Conference Championships on Monday (look on page B2) and use the home field advantage to her benefit while her male teammates Bradlyn Little Yellow, Noah Red Willow, Pecos Sun Rhodes and Ryan Martel look to do the same.
For the 3A runners both champions from the 2021 year will be looking to repeat as Owen Burnett, the runner who finished first at the Chief Nation Invitationals in Ethete earlier this year, and Ava Stafford are amongst some returning runners.
Fun fact: Burnett not only won in Ethete earlier this year, but he also set a personal record in the 5000 meter run with a time of 16:11.50.
Riverton’s Kaden Chatfield will be looking to improve on his fifth-place time (16:54.78) from last year’s state championship in Ethete, and his time from the race at Wyoming Indian earlier this year (16:46.70) as well.
Meanwhile, Lander’s Ameya Eddy is riding a hot streak heading into this race and also looks to improve on her fourth-place time from last year (19:55.66). Eddy has four first-place finishes this year to go along with a second-place finish and a sixth-place finish (which she ran in Ethete back in September).
Lander also looks to defend, as a team, as the 3A boys’ champion in points while both the Riverton and Lander girls’ will look to knock off Cody and their defending individual champion, Ava Stafford.
There are five or less top-ten runners from last year returning in both the 4A girls (four) and 4A boys (five) with an added bonus of two Star Valley runners, who placed in the top ten of 3A last year, joining the 4A boys’ field this time around.
The Chief Nation Invitational back in September (look for the story on rivertonranger.com and wrrnetwork.com/journal/) was not only the time and place of some great views and weather, but it was also the location for the two new course records set by the winners. Burnett’s 16:11.50 and Rawlins’ Ryann Smith’s 19:17.80 will be the times to beat.
Good luck to all those runners that will be participating and be sure to check out WyoToday’s YouTube page for the live stream, starting at 10 a.m., with in-depth coverage, interviews with winners and coaches, and more!