Nathan Green of Borah had a simple but effective strategy.
The two-time defending State 5A cross country champion wanted to test his competition and see what it would take to capture a third straight state championship.
The savvy runner let Idaho Falls' Mitchell Athay do all the work, as Green broke away in the final 800 meters to pull off a threepeat in a time of 15 minutes, 26:.53 seconds at the Portneuf Wellness Center in Pocatello.
Athay finished just under 13 seconds later in second.
“I wasn't really sure how it was going to go or play out,” Green said. “I just talked to Tim (Borah coach Tim Severa) and he said to be conservative and see how people are going to race the first mile. I also talked to (Boise girls coach) Aaron (Olswanger) and he told me the same thing – to draft off the pack. So I didn't feel the effect of the wind. I hung with the leader and put some distance between me and him the last 800 meters).”
Athay led Idaho Falls to the team title. The Tigers finished with 23 points. Rocky Mountain took second with 78 and Kuna, in its first year back in 5A, took fourth (124).
Athay led a second-third-fourth finish for Idaho Falls runners.
Green wasn't looking to set a personal record in time.
“I definitely could have been faster,” Green said. “A state title is a state title and that's what we were going for today.”
Green took a moment to thank his coaches.
“It's been a crazy ride (this season),” Green said. “All the teachings and lessons … and the resilience of coach Tim (Severa). COVID hit us hard but it was a really good year with the great coaching staff.”
Marcus Heemeyer of Rocky Mountain was the next highest area placer. He took seventh (16:05.79).
Other area medalists were: Hayden Bostrom of Timberline (ninth); Zac Pollock of Rocky Mountain (12th), Cayden Tupper of Rocky Mountain (13th); Noe Kemper of Boise (16th); William Richardson of Kuna (17th); and Ryver Mills of Kuna (20th).
Preston claimed the state title with 49 points and Pocatello was second with 66. Bishop Kelly was the highest placing area team at fifth (128).
Shane Gard of Pocatello was the winner in 15:42.29. Samuel Fish of Vallivue was the highest area placer in fourth (16:05.42).
Other area medalists were: Brody Kemble of Middleton (10th); Tyler Mesaros of Bishop Kelly (12th); Cyress Wilson of Caldwell (16th); Parker Wade of Ridgevue (17th); Daniel Russell of Bishop Kelly (18th); and Cruz Flores of Caldwell (19th).
Sugar-Salem led a dominating effort. The Diggers took first with 30 points, well ahead of Teton (111).
Parma was the highest finishing area team at seventh (168).
Owen Rogers of Gooding took the individual title in a time of 16:21.50.
Dakoda Lamb of Parma was the highest placing area individual in seventh (16:56.88).