NAMPA — Autumn Kidd stopped right in the middle of her warmups and stretches in the infield.

The Kuna runner put her hands over her head and watched helplessly. The event that has come to define her over the last two years passed her by.

The reigning two-time 5A 400-meter state champion didn’t run in her bread and butter event due to pneumonia at the 4A District III Track and Field Championships Saturday at Nampa High School.

The junior had to settle for a runner-up finish in the triple jump, third in the 200 and fifth in the 100.

“It was hard to watch. I just kept thinking, ‘I wish I was out there,’” Kidd said. “This year has been the hardest just because I have no control over it. In the past, if I worked really hard, I’m used to getting results and progressing. But this year it’s been rough working so hard and for it to kind of be for nothing.

"But I know it's just how it's meant to be. I know through this I won't take my health for granted anymore and I'll grow from it and I'll learn from it."

Kidd woke up one day before the start of the season in March not feeling too well. But she just chalked it up to a cold.

However, four weeks later, Kidd still had a bad cough. So the 17-year-old finally went to the hospital where she got an X-ray and was diagnosed with pneumonia.

Kidd was given two rounds of antibiotics and a week off of practice during the middle of the season, but it didn’t help. Pneumonia turned into Asthma.

She needs an inhaler just to breathe.

So after Kidd failed to meet a certain 300 time during practice Monday, Kuna assistant coach Kim Haws made a tough decision.

“It was probably the toughest thing I’ve ever done because it’s not easy to tell Autumn that she can’t do something that is for sure,” Haws said. “I put my coach hat on and I put my mom hat on. The coach hat is a lot easier than the mom hat that's for sure. But it wasn’t safe for Autumn. It had nothing to do with winning or losing, it had everything to do with her safety. You can’t run the 400 when you can't breathe.”

Kidd spent the rest of that night in her room crying. The 400 was the event that she had made a name for herself after all.

She surprised everyone her freshman year. Kidd dived head-first at the finish line to edge Eagle’s Brooklyn Bingham by just 0.03 seconds for the 400 crown at the 2017 5A state meet. Kidd followed that up with another state championship in the 400 the following year.

“It was just a dream come true,” Kidd said. “It just made me set new goals for myself. I’ve just been hungry ever since.”

Kidd faced new competition this year with Kuna dropping back down to 4A. She won three times in the 400, but never got the chance to face the likes of  last year’s runner up, Chloe Barylski from Ridgevue, Middleton’s Ashley Campbell, who has the fastest time in the classification, and Lauren Elwer of Bishop Kelly. 

She instead watched as Campbell, Elwer and Barylski finished 1-2-3.

“The competition at 4A is a lot tougher than what I’m used to at 5A,” Kidd said. “I was just so excited to get in there and have them push me to do my best this year. I guess we’ll try next year.”

Kidd, though, still competed in the triple jump, 100 and 200 dashes. She started her day with the triple jump. After scratching on her first attempt, Kidd put down a season record and state qualifying mark of 35 feet, 10.50 inches. It was second only to Bishop Kelly’s Alyson Tekippe (36-7).

She then moved on to the 100. Kidd had a great start and led the pack for 10 meters before a false start was issued. She didn’t do as well on the restart and finished in fifth with a time of 12.90 seconds. Only the top four are guaranteed a spot at state. There are still two at-large bids available, but those are based on district times from around the state, so she will have to wait and see.

Kidd ended her day in the 200. She led the first 100 before finishing in third with a time of 26.05 to advance to state.

"I'm not super pleased with how I did, but I worked all season and all fall and all winter for this and I didn’t want to just give up,” Kidd said. “I could give up the 400, but I couldn’t give up everything else. It wasn’t an option for me.”

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Kidd will compete in at least the triple jump and the 200 at next week’s state meet at Eagle High School. But Kidd said those still won’t compare to the thrill she gets in the 400.

However, she’ll be back next year. The only thing that will stop her is another illness, and even that might not be enough next time.

"Autumn Kidd's 80 percent is everyone else's 100 percent," Haws said. "I'm never going to bet against Autumn Kidd I promise you that. I wouldn't bet against Autumn Kidd with an pneumonia. The girl can pull anything out."

NOTES: Bishop Kelly swept the boys and girls team titles.

The boys beat Caldwell by 31.35 points with 153.35. Nicholas Russell led the way for the Knights with titles in the 800 (1:59.58), 1,600 (4:24.31) and 3,200 (9:40.29). James Onanubasi (100), Brian Mullin (high jump) and Matt Heffner (long jump) also won championships for Bishop Kelly.

The girls had nearly three times as many points as the next closest team. Bishop Kelly finished with 340 points. Ridgevue took second with 115 points.

Tekippe paced the Knights with four championships. She won in the pole vault (10-6), long jump (17-5), triple jump and as part of the 4x100 relay team (48.86). Younger sister Paige (100), Rebecca Bodine (1,600), Amaia Van Tol (100 hurdles), Elwer (300 hurdles), Kelly Donnellan (high jump), the 4x200 and medley relay teams all also brought home titles.

Emmett’s Landon Helms won multiple titles. He won in the 110 hurdles (14.80) and the pole vault (14-6).

2A

NAMPA CHRISTIAN BOYS, MELBA GIRLS WIN TITLES: The Nampa Christian boys cruised to a district title. The Trojans more than doubled up Cole Valley Christian with 267.5 points. The Chargers finished with 118 points.

Drew Howerzyl anchored it with four championships. He won in the high jump, long jump, triple jump and as part of the 4x100 relay team.

But Howerzyl wasn’t the only one on the team to have a big day.

Ethan Brands (200, 400, 4x100), Jeffrey Stewart (800, 4x400, medley), Josiah Irwin (4x100, 4x400) and Scotty Miller (pole vault, 4x400) all won multiple titles for Nampa Christian.

Justus Wiles added a 300 hurdles championship for the Trojans.

Brennen Donahue (1,600, 3,200) and Obadiyah Gee (100 and 4x200) won multiple championships for Cole Valley Christian.

New Plymouth’s Nick Woods swept the throwing events with wins in the shot put and discus.

The Melba girls also dominated. The Mustangs finished with 196.5 points. The next closest team was McCall-Donnelly at 140.

Emma Clark and Kylahn Heritage led the way with two titles apiece. Clark won in the triple jump and the pole vault. Heritage took first in the 800 and the 1,600.

Emily Oldham (discus) and the 4x200 relay team of Kate Clark, Jordan Dayley, Telissa Christensen and Kortney Trappett also won championships for Melba.

Cole Valley Christian’s Brooke Weimer won three title.

Weimer beat defending state champion Emma Clark in the 100 and the long jump along with another title in the 200.

Brynne Kundrick of McCall-Donnelly also recorded three wins on the day. She won in the 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles and as a part of the winning medley relay team.

Brandon Walton covers Ada County and College of Idaho sports for the Idaho Press.

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