LaVergne lone Huskie headed to State cross country

Riley Buck lead teammate Robbie Gonzales and a pursuing pack through the second mile point of the 5,000 meter District III cross country race at Eagle Island State Park in 2019. Buck qualified for State last year and is looking to pick up the pace even more for his senior season.

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Low numbers of participants have hampered the fortunes of the Emmett Cross Country team the last three season. Not only has the short roster cost them in the District team races, it has been a factor in simply pushing each other to the next level.

That has improved considerably for 2021 and coach Chuck Alexander is excited to see what a difference it has already made and what it might mean come late October.

“We will be a lot more competitive — in practice and in meets,” Alexander said. “Last year we only had two girls that ran much and only one of those was healthy enough to compete at the end of the season. We had enough boys to score points as a team at Districts but not enough to push many to State.”

Riley Buck was the lone runner to represent Emmett at the State High School Championships last fall. Alexander sees the addition of Forrest Tomlin, a senior transfer from Timberline High School as perhaps the spark that could push Buck even further this year.

“Those two have been and will continue to push each other every day. That’s something we didn’t have last year,” Alexander said. “Riley has a lot of other things on his plate this year as EHS Student Body President plus his FFA and drama involvements but with Forrest egging him on I could see both challenging for a top 20 position in District and a return to State.”

As school begins this week Alexander has a roster sporting eight boys and six girls. He has a handful of others who have expressed an interest and could still join the pack in the next week or so.

Seniors joining Buck and Tomlin are returner Sam Newcomer and new to cross country, Lukas Snow. Sophomore Christian White started his career strong as a freshman last fall.

Freshman making their debuts with the Huskies are Bond Gregory, Caden Walker and Brenner Warren.

A late season addition might come from senior David Bratcher who also starts on the EHS boys soccer team but joined late last year to run.

Leyna Winegar was the solo artist for the Huskies last fall and now as a junior will be the veteran leader on the team. Expected to push Winegar on the race course is freshman Annie Kunka.

A trio of sophomores are getting their first experience with Emmett — McKenzie Nebeker, Taylor Tomaszewski and Jayla Goslin. Rachel Winegar will be a strong freshman addition to the team.

There is no scheduled home meet this year for the Huskies. So many scheduling conflicts with larger meets has made it almost impossible for Emmett to get more than one or two teams to join it for its traditional Payette River Run. Alexander hopes that can be revived in the future.

Most of the action this fall will be in traditional Invitationals, beginning this weekend with the Jimmy Driscoll Classic hosted by Bishop Kelly on Saturday.

The Huskies will have a second home this season just over the hill at Eagle Island State Park. The course which gets flexed and moved around can include one or two runs over the ski hill or could avoid the quick incline and even steeper decline altogether.

Emmett will be on some version of that course for the prestigious Bob Firman Invitational on Sept. 25, the District III Championships on October 21 and the Idaho State High School Championships on October 30.

If you are a local student and wanting to exercise your running shoes this fall, Alexander says he can “squeeze another 20 or so kids onto the team with no trouble.”

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