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The Union/Cove girls cross country team, front row from left, Kathryn Sheehy, McKenzie Evans, Josey Koehn, Hannah Brazil, Lynn Shoemaker, second row: Katriel O’Reilly, Sarah Brazil, Elly Wells, back row: Coach Steve Sheehy, Stormy Bullard and Coach Phil O’Reilly pose with the trophy after winning the Bob Firman Invite Saturday. (Courtesy photo)
BOISE, Idaho — Union is synonymous with cross country. Head coach Steve Sheehy and his team expect to contend for state titles. It’s something they’ve achieved. But the Bobcats did something Friday for the first time in school history — they won the Bob Firman Invitational.
Not only did they win, but McKenzie Evans took home the individual title.
“We have been going to the Bob Firman since 2004,” Sheehy said. “We have never had an individual champion, and we have never had a team championship, so this is pretty special.”
Union raced in the second division, designated for small schools. However, that doesn’t have the same definition in Idaho as it does with Eastern Oregon.
“Ironically for us the second division contains all the schools up to 800 students,” Sheehy said. “So we were going up against some very big schools. There were teams from Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Wyoming and California. Our division had 20 complete teams.”
It makes Evans’ honor that much bigger.
The senior finished in a time of 19:30.76, seven minutes ahead of the second-place finisher, Rachel Youren of Gooding, Idaho.
“It’s incredible,” Evans said. “I knew I had a good chance because I was going into the race ranked fourth or fifth overall. Being my senior year, I put a lot of work in over the summer. It’s great to see the effort paying off.
“When I came over a hill we cross twice, I knew I had it. There was a pretty big gap between me and the girls behind me.”
Evans ended up beating three runners that had beaten her in last year’s race. She ran 53 seconds faster than last year.
Union put its five runners in the top-28 to finish with 66 total points. Preston, Idaho, came in second with a team score of 77.
Sheehy is quick to point out that the fifth runner is as important as the four coming in front.
“As often is the case in cross country, the team hero for us on the girls side was our fifth runner, Hannah Brazil,” Sheehy said. “In our duel with Preston High, we had only a slim one point lead in the team competition through the first four runners. But Hannah beat Preston’s fifth runner by almost 30 seconds to give us an 11-point margin. Pretty cool.”
Katriel O’Reilly finished in a time of 20:17.69, which put her seventh overall, just missing a personal record on the Boise course.
Stormy Bullard and Elly Wells placed 15th and 18th, respectively, getting four of the five Bobcats on the individual awards podium.
“It’s a great team accomplishment,” Evans said. “This is always the biggest race we go to each year. Going up against schools that are bigger than us and being able to beat them is amazing. It’s going to give us a big confidence boost the rest of the season.”
The Enterprise girls finished 17th overall with a score of 388.
Isabelle Tingelstad led the Outlaws with a time of 22:24.05, finishing 39th.
The Union boys finished sixth as a team, scoring 229 points.
Rowland Hall, Utah, took first with a team score of 130.
Ethan Black led the Bobcats with a 25th-place finish in a time of 17:59.81.
“Our boys didn’t get very good starting positions, and were moving up during the second and third mile,” Sheehy said. “But, they ran out of time. Ethan moved from around 40th to 25th in the last 800 meters. Our younger guys are really stepping up. Samuel (O’Reilly), Harris (Lackey) and Jayson (Blackburn) all had pretty good races. I’m hoping that as our season gets further along, we’ll be able to get our top guys running a little faster.”
David Ribich of Enterprise finished second overall with a time of 16:33.05, 12 seconds behind the individual winner, Austin Stewart of Shelly, Idaho.
Wil Story finished 61st overall, second on his team, with a time of 18:49.01.
The Outlaws had four runners, and did not qualify in the team placing.