Hailey Ricks won the 4A state cross-country title as a sophomore in 2010 and then repeated as the champ with a 3A state title on Saturday. Ricks was the only girl to break 20 minutes on the Douglas course, running 19:54 to win the title, outpacing Anne Brinegar of Cody by 15 seconds. Brittney Nethercott finished third overall with a time of 20:48 and Brooke Nethercott placed fifth with a time of 21:04. However, Brinegar’s team took the team title with their overall depth at the fourth and fifth runners, finishing with a total score of 47 points.
Star Valley had a large gap between the Nethercotts and their fourth and fifth runners, Courtney Smith and Aspen Heward, who finished 27th and 28th respectively with the Lady Braves compiling 64 team points.
The team had aspirations of a team title this year, but a less tangible prize may have taken place during the race. Freshman, Hannah Demler, who had solidly positioned herself as the fourth runner for the ladies this season, had a shoe come partially off just one hundred meters into the race. Demler, showing poise and determination, ran approximately one and half miles with the shoe almost off before abandoning the shoe and running another one and a half miles with just one shoe before fainting just before the finish line. Head coach Ty Draney, a multiple ultra-marathon winner said “Never have I seen a gutsier performance in my life.”
Both Nethercotts will graduate, leaving a very strong contingent of returning runners led by the two-time champion Ricks. Smith, Heward, Dakota Bateman, Jess Woodford and Demler are all underclassmen expected to return.
The Braves had all five varsity runners finish in the top 23 spots on their way to a second place finish at the state cross-country championships in Douglas Saturday. Mike Rider led the way, finishing 11th overall with a 17:54. Junior Gabe Waldron and sophomore Zack Dubisz were next with times of 18:11 and 18:13 respectively. Freshman Cody Peck ran an 18:15 while Ben McArthur rounded out the varsity scores with a 18:30. The Jackson Broncs pulled away handily for the team title, placing four runners in the top six finishers. Rider and McArthur are the only seniors on the squad, with Ben Sabat and Cody Whitmore also running in Douglas and slated to return next season.