Bulldog girls defend 4A state cross country title

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The Sandpoint girls state champion cross country team, pictured top row, from left to right: Coaches Angie and Matt Brass, Cori McClelland, Claire Pierce, Hannah Davidson, Lauren Orr, Emily Marshall and Tim Prummer. Front row: Dana Beaty, Rainey Woodward, Sharon Rowe, Mikhaela Woodward and Katherine Kaul. (Courtesy photo)

SANDPOINT — Led by four podium finishes and a strong pack presence, the Bulldog girls successfully defended their 4A state cross country championship, securing the repeat and bringing home the third state title banner in Sandpoint history.

Led by top 20 finishes from Sharon Rowe, Mikhaela Woodward, Rainey Woodward and Katherine Kaul, the Bulldogs won by a comfortable 19 points. With Mikhaela as the lone senior running at state, the building blocks are in place for another strong run next year.

Girls coach Angie Brass raved about the team, led by senior captains Mikhaela Woodward and Emily Marshall.

“Hard work, dedication, toughness, intellect and unity are words that describe this incredible group of young women, and the momentum they kept from last year’s state title and the goal for a repeat this season,” said Brass. “They are a close group, who care about each other, work hard for each other, run well together and can push each other to greatness.”

The course at Eagle Island featured a bit of everything that makes cross country great, including sand, hills, mud, trails, grass, and under a steady rain, slick conditions.

Brass offered an assessment of each girls’ performance at state.

n Sharon Rowe, freshman, 14th place, 19:51.80: “Sharon has had an incredible season, gaining confidence and moving up each week. She had a breakout race at state and kept the pack driving forward to a great finish.”

n Mikhaela Woodward, senior, 15th place, 19:52.15: “Mik has been the rock for the last three years for the girls team. She is consistent, tough and a great teammate. She worked to keep the pack together through the first half of the course and passed key runners in the last mile to help seal the win. She had a very aggressive case of tendonitis flare up that cost her three weeks of running, but still came back from that and led the girls team with a great state race.”

n Rainey Woodward, sophomore, 17th place, 19:56.02: “Rainey has had a great season. She is a consistent, driving force at the front of the pack, works to keep her teammates together and has a devastating kick on her approach to the finish. No competitor is safe when the finish line is near.”

n Katherine Kaul, freshman, 18th place, 19:56.12: “Kat had a fabulous freshman season and is a tough competitor. A foot injury in late September meant state was her first race in more than a month, and she ran strong in the pack. Even with a massive side-ache, she pulled out a top 20 finish and huge team contribution.”  

n Corinne McClelland, junior, 27th place, 20:49.77: “Cori is a dependable strong runner with incredible closing speed. She is a great teammate and has helped to drive our numbers four through seven consistently all season, displacing points and racing fiercely, pulling teammate Hannah to make a dynamic duo.”

Hannah Davidson, freshman, 28th place, 20:50.20: “This was Hannah’s first year ever running distance and she stepped in and has gained so much since the first day. She has learned quickly, worked hard and made an impact and contribution with the team and has made an excellent race partner with Cori.”  

n Claire Pierce, junior, 49th place, 21:29.43: “Claire has had an incredible season, has come through strong in the pack and is called ‘Claire Fierce’ for a reason. She is so mentally tough, able to push so hard. She had an asthma attack during state race and didn’t finish where she had wanted to, but ran tough as nails to displace as many points as she possible could and contribute to the team win.”

n Alternates — seniors Lauren Orr and Emily Marshall, and sophomore Dana Beaty: “These ladies did not compete at state, but were ready to if someone was unable to compete. Their contributions to the team are evident in the strength and depth of the girls team.”

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