AFTON – Infamous Wyoming winds and snow flurries weren’t strong enough to even marginally hinder Rawlins runner Sydney Thorvaldson on Saturday afternoon as she sprinted her way to her third consecutive 3A cross country state title.
“Actually, I love running in the snow,” Thorvaldson said after the race. “When it started snowing, I was pretty excited.”
The already nationally lauded runner crossed the Valley View Golf Course finish line at a time of 17:32.69, while second-place finisher Riley Smith of Cody wasn’t in sight for almost another two minutes. Smith ended the race at 19:25.38.
Thorvaldson, meanwhile, broke her best Valley View time by almost a minute.
“This course is one of the toughest. It’s the toughest I’ve ever ran, actually,” Thorvaldson said. “I ran an 18:20 on this course earlier this season, so then to come down from that to 17:30, it’s crazy. It’s cool to see I’m improving like that.”
Valley View is loaded with short straight aways, with many hills and bumps in between. The course itself is also located smack dab in the middle of the Salt River Range, giving runners an even better taste of the unpredictable and harsh Rocky Mountain elements.
So, for Thorvaldson, she had a gameplan.
“I think the start has always been kind of been a strategy point,” she said. “I said that I really wanted to have a fast start, since it’s that straightaway down hill. And then, from there on, it's kind of just drive up the hills and stride on the down hills.”
With the win, the Rawlins junior said she’s now preparing for next month’s Nike Cross Northwest Regional meet in Boise, Id. This marks the third consecutive time she’ll by vying to qualify for Nike nationals.
In 2017, Thorvaldson’s first Nike regional, she nabbed an overall third-place finish at 17:36.08, which beat out 155 kids from several respective states. The Outlaws’ freshman – that’s right, freshman – took ninth place at Nike nationals in Portland, Ore. at a time of 17:58.7.
Last year, as a sophomore, Thorvaldson decided bronze wasn’t good enough, and this time she won the Nike regional, gaining a 17:24.10. A couple weeks later, her 17:29.1 garnered a 13th place finish at Nike nationals.
Believe it or not, these performances, which are highly recognized, aren’t her best times. Early last month, the Rawlins standout nailed down a time of 16:40 in Little, Colo., which broke the Little Bell Cross Country Invite record.
On Saturday, Thorvaldson was asked if her triumphs have rubbed off on her teammates.
“I like to think so,” she said. “I really think all of us really push each other in practices and races and everything. We’ve done a lot of team bonding this year, and I think we’ve got really close.”
“We worked on our goals and we sat down and said we want to do this,” she added. “And I really think that’s helped us stay motivated mentally and physically.”
For Rawlins’ boys, it was junior Caleb Johansson who led the charge.
Out of the 101 runners in the pool, Johnansson, who’s dropped at least five to 10 seconds per race since beginning the season, was pleased with his 14th place finish.
“I felt really good with it,” Johansson said of his final time. “My sprint was my favorite part.”
Johansson kept a moderate pace after the gun, remaining almost shoulder to shoulder with Lander’s Ethan Kraft and Blaine Gokilish the majority of the race. Saving an extra bit of energy, Johansson then charged down the finish line for a time of 18:01.15.
Like Thorvaldson, Johansson welcomed the inclement weather.
“Some people might say it’s crazy, but I like it,” Johansson said. “It feels nice on the legs.”
Star Valley junior Peter Visser took first for 3A boys at 16:01.26.
To end the 2019 season, Outlaws girls took fifth place overall with 122 points, while Rawlins boys nabbed seventh with 202 points.
1st: Thorvaldson, 17:32.69
18th: Harris Tanner, 21:05.19
26th: Rebekah Hinman, 21:46.64
38th: Ryann Smith, 22:19.81
83rd: Keona Herrera, 25:58.81
91st: Haley Doty, 27:29.15
14th: Johannson, 18:01.15
36th: Nathan Schweisberger, 18:54.60
37th: Lorenzo Johanson, 18:56.84
68th: Cody Hinman, 19:58.92
71st: Jarron Mascarenas, 20:04.94
81st: Joe Fox, 20:38.66