Wolverines compete at Sinks CanyonSep 8, 2017 By Scott Akanewich, Sports Editor
For most of the runners in Thursday's cross country confrontation between Riverton and Lander, it was both the same, old thing and something altogether new.
Similar was the competition -- a race against not only your opponents, but the clock.
Different was the rugged terrain they competed on.
Not a single fairway or bunker in sight and the only water hazards were the streams which meandered through the 2.5-mile course at Central Wyoming College's Sinks Canyon Center.
No golf-course running on this day.
Instead, the Wolverines and Tigers dueled one another on the open plains, thick forest and steep hills of a natural layout.
But, none of that bothered Lander's Jessica White.
Not only is the Lady Tiger brand new to the sport, but she's only a freshman.
White blazed the rough trails and won the girls' varsity race in a time of 23:41, just ahead of Riverton's Trysta Stingley, who was runner-up with a 24:03.
In the team competition, Lander came out on top with 25 points to the Lady Wolverines' 35.
Rounding out the top 10 were Riverton's Sydney Chatfield (third, 24:08), Lander's Brianna Rich (fourth, 25:06), L'Anza White (Lander, fifth, 26:42), Madi Johnson (Riverton, sixth, 27:19), Leah Brown (Lander, seventh, 27:44), Sophia Cole (Lander, eighth, 27:44), Talianna Shaw, (Riverton, ninth, 28:34) and Vilja Bergersen (Lander, 10th, 28:38).
In the boys' varsity race, Riverton's Tarryn Whiteplume got out to fast start and the race quickly became a showdown between him and a pair of Tigers in James Whiting and Kaleb Simonsen, with Wolverines team captain Dino Baldes also in the mix, supporting his teammate.
However, in the end, it was freshman Simonsen who reigned supreme, winning in a time of 19:19, with Whiting second in 19:23, Whiteplume third in 19:35 and Baldes fourth in 19:36.
Just as their female counterparts had done earlier, the Tigers boys defeated Big Red's runners with 21 points to Riverton's 49.
Lander's Zane Sandall was fifth in 19:47, while Tigers teammates Kameron Brough and Sam Kistemann were sixth (20:06) and seventh (20:26), respectively, followed by Riverton's Brady Stingley in eighth (20:26), Lander's Noah Gans in ninth (20:41) and the Tigers' Hayden Johnson in 10th at 20:48.
However, the real star of the day was the course itself, said Wolverines head coach Jay Dayton.
"Coach (Al) Lara was gracious enough to host us here," said Dayton. "So, we said 'Why not do this?'"
The race also provided a strategic training opportunity for his squad, eschewing a trip to Sheridan on the weekend for the race in Lander, said Dayton.
"With all the budget cuts, we can save on travel and hotels by doing this," he said. "Not to mention avoiding a long bus ride."
The course and its tight confines also gave his team a chance to work more cohesively as a unit, he said.
"On a course like this, our team has to work together more closely," said Dayton. "What it does is pull along our second, third and fourth guys."
Baldes enjoyed the experience of the different surroundings.
"It was more of a subtle hard," said Baldes. "The sharp turns slow you down and it was more straight up-and-down than any other course I've run and for a big guy like me, that makes it tough. But, it also separates the best runners."
Central Wyoming College head cross country coach Lara, the architect of the course, which he built himself, was pleased to finally host a high-school race.
"I had to get it ready for our college race, anyway, so when Coach Dayton and Coach (Kevin) Green approached me about it, I was thrilled," said Lara. "It really worked out good -- to have something like this here is a dream come true."
Both Riverton and Lander will next compete at the Lander Invitational on Sept. 14.