Seth Bingham entered the meet with only the seventh-best time in the field. But his name should have had an asterisk — one unique to the coronavirus pandemic.

Because his team, Thunder Ridge High School of Idaho Falls, had been quarantined in early September, he and his teammates were forced to run by themselves at the Sept. 12 Tiger/Grizz Invitational cross country meet in that town. Without much competition, Bingham posted a time far below his personal record and good for only 19th place.

So the southern Idahoan ran under the radar Saturday. That won’t be true moving forward.

Competing almost 600 miles from home, Bingham took full command in the late stages and won the boys’ 5,000-meter race at the Inland Empire Challenge at the Lewis-Clark State College course in the Lewiston Orchards.

The junior shattered his personal record by half a minute in claiming his first high school victory in 15 minutes, 43 seconds.

In calm and sunny conditions that spectators relished and runners found a bit toasty, Post Falls’ Samantha Wood ran away with the girls’ championship in 17:49, the best time in Idaho this season.

The top placers from the area were Lewiston’s Payton Bigler in ninth in the boys’ race, and Logos’ Sara Casebolt, 13th among the girls.

Heading into the meet, the boys’ favorites had appeared to be the Sandpoint tandem of Jett Lucas and Nikolai Braedt. But they were challenged early by Bingham, who’d been training at a higher elevation and entered with a strategy of attacking the down-slopes of the mostly flat course.

“I knew they weren’t going to be expecting me,” he said. “I just sat on Niko’s tail. He looked strong the entire way but I knew on the downhill he didn’t have it, and I’ve been working on my downhill running lately.”

Braedt placed second in 15:55 and Lucas took sixth as the Bulldogs convincingly claimed the boys’ team title with 38 points. Post Falls was second with 62.

Bigler, a senior who led the Bengal boys to fourth place, ran strongly but about a mile into race encountered a familiar foe for him — a mild asthma attack.

“I get one almost every race,” he said. “It burns your throat and, if I have it long enough, it starts to burn my chest and lungs. By the time I’m done running, it starts to clear up and I feel better. I’ve had asthma since I was 3, so if I do start getting one, I’m not worrried about passing out on the course or anything.”

Bigler initially was omitted from the race results, apparently because his timing chip had gone undetected. Because of the pandemic, officials used disposable chips, which are slightly more likely to fail than reusable ones. Officials quickly reviewed video and added Bigler to the results.

Wood, a Post Falls junior, won the girls’ race by 26 seconds in leading the Trojans to the team title with 27 points, 34 more than second-place Coeur d’Alene. She dropped her PR by 11 seconds.

“I’m really happy about it,” she said. “Our whole team was hoping for fast times today, and this course never disappoints.”

Well, sometimes its expanse of stubbly brown grass disappoints runners like Casebolt who prefer a more pleasing view. But the Logos freshman had no complaints about lopping 1:21 off her best time in leading the Moscow school to fourth place.

“I was pretty happy about it — a major PR for me,” she said.

This was the second meet at the LCSC course since alterations were made to widen the start and certain turns. The changes were made with a view to eventually bidding to host national competitions, according to meet director Mike Collins.

GIRLS

Team scores — Post Falls 27, Coeur d’Alene 64, Sandpoint 90, Logos 110, Lake City 112, McCall-Donnelly 150, Timberlake 175, Lewiston 185, Potlatch 237.

Top placers — 1. Samantha Wood, PF, 17:49; 2. Alivia Johnson, Bonn, 18:15; 3. Sophie McManus, MD, 18:47; 4. Anna Peters, PF, 18:51; 5. Elliana Rietze, CdA, 19:26; 6. Kaley Bohl, PF, 19:31; 7. Clara Stephens, LC, 19:35; 8. Alahna Lien, PF, 19:52; 9. Angelyca Chapman, LC, 19:55; 10. Anne Marie Dance, CdA, 20:10; 11. Abby Buzolich, CdA, 20:15; 12. Leah Holding, PF, 20:29; 13. Sara Casebolt, Log, 20:36; 14. Megan Oulman, San, 20:41; 15. Alyssa Blum, Log, 20:49; 16. Cori Hatfield, MD, 20:54; 17. Camille Neuder, San, 20:57; 18. MacKenzie Suhy-Gregoire, San, 20:57; 19. Taylah Chapman, LC, 21:14; 20. Ara Clark, San, 21:17.

BOYS

Team scores — Sandpoint 38, Post Falls 62, Lewiston 86, Coeur d’Alene 113, Logos 143, Lake City 157, McCall-Donnelly 158, Timberlake 168, Potlatch 279, Troy 290.

Top placers — 1. Seth Bingham, ThunRdge, 15:43; 2. Nikolai Braedt, San, 15:55; 3. Ethan Garner, CdA, 16:01; 4. Alex Peters, PF, 16:01; 5. Brycen Kempton, PF, 16:06; 6. Jett Lucas, San, 16:06; 7. Zac Knapp, Enterp, 16:10; 8. Logan Davis, CC, 16:18; 9. Payton Bigler, Lew, 16:33; 10. Neil McCarthy, PF, 16:35; 11. Keegan Nelson, San, 16:44; 12. Maximillian Bazler, LC, 16:47; 13. Kobe Wessels, Lew, 16:47; 14. Carson Sellers, Tim, 16:48; 15. Nathan Roche, San, 16:48; 16. Alex Blum, Log, 16:48; 17. Spencer Clark III, San, 16:52; 18. Slate Fragoso, San, 16:58; 19. Jack McManus, MD, 17:00; 20. Jase Elmore, Log, 17:04.

OTHER RACE WINNERS

JV girls — Iona McDonald, Enterp, 22:49.

Middle school girls — Lizzy Crawford, Log, 10:10.

JV boys — Dakota Smith, Tim, 18:13.

Middle school boys — Tyler Knapp, Enterp, 9:20.

Grummert may be contacted at daleg@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2290.

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