Runners will navigate through grass, rocks, dirt and sagebrush Thursday, Sept. 8 when the Wood River Invitational prep cross country running meet returns to the Sun Valley Gun Club trails for the first time in two years.
"It's the toughest course any of our runners will face this year," said Wood River coach Joel Zellers about the 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) up-and-down challenge. Only about a half-mile of the course is flat.
In Sept. 2003, about 250 runners took part in the footrace. This year, Zellers expects a big crowd including Great Basin Conference runners because the 4A conference meet will be staged on the same Sun Valley Gun Club course Oct. 22.
Burley, Jerome, Minico, 5A Mountain View of Boise, Rigby, Ririe, Buhl and Mountain Home are among schools due.
The junior varsity girls' event begins at 5 p.m. followed by the JV boys at 5:45 p.m., the varsity girls at 6:15 p.m. and the varsity boys at 6:45 p.m. Starting times are later than normal for a prep meet because the Idaho Governor's Cup trapshooting meet is happening Thursday at the gun club.
Dahlgren, Rendahl on top
Last Thursday, the Wood River thinclads started their season successfully at the South Fremont Invitational in the hills near St. Anthony.
Zellers said, "It was a tough course with numerous hills. Dust was everywhere and the heat was around 80 degrees."
Nevertheless Wood River's Tess Dahlgren and Ashley Rendahl blew away the varsity field and finished in first place, side-by-side. Rosie Gilchrist, in her first race in the U.S., placed an incredible fourth overall.
Other girls helping the Wolverines to second place behind Idaho Falls and ahead of third-place Blackfoot were Maddie Cordovano and Trish McLaughlin.
The Hailey boys—with their top five of Nick Purdy, Joe Zeman, J.D. Hill, Bryce Moulton and Jack VanPaepeghem—ended up fourth of seven teams.
In the boys' JV race, Drew Anderson (18:55) clocked the second-fastest time of the day for Wood River (including varsity runners). Cole Wells (19:42) and Connor Caraluzzi (19:56) also had top times. In girls' JV, Georgia Thies and Aimee Loudenslager both placed well.