Cross Country

Jackson Hole High School’s Parker Smith crosses the finish line in the girls 5-kilometer race at the 3A state championships in Sheridan. The sophomore’s time of 19 minutes and 33 seconds was good enough for fourth place.

A week after placing fourth in the 3A West regional Jackson’s Sienna Taylor was kept out of Saturday’s 3A state meet in Sheridan by an injury.

Taylor’s personal record time of 19 minutes and 34 seconds would have placed her in the top five at state, and even a time 25 seconds short of her best would have given her All-State honors. Most teams wouldn’t be able to overcome a loss like that. Most teams aren’t Jackson.

The Lady Broncs cruised to their fourth state championship in five years in Sheridan with a 48-point win over runner-up Cody. Jackson’s top three runners actually trailed Cody’s top three by four points, but the Broncs’ ridiculous depth helped them to the easiest of wins.

Jackson’s sixth and seventh runners were both faster than Cody’s fourth and fifth runners. And the Broncs’ fourth and fifth runners outscored Cody’s fourth and fifth by a gross margin of 52 points.

“This team was different than past years,” Jackson coach Jeff Brazil said. “With no superstars this was a complete team effort that overcame a key injury and performed at its best when it mattered.”

Jackson had four All-State selections as sophomore Parker Smith (19:33), senior Rosalie Daval (19:43), freshman Kate Brigham (19:53) and senior Andie Cornish (20:00) all placed in the top 10.

Smith led the Broncs in fourth. Daval placed sixth, Brigham finished eighth, and Cornish earned her third All-State selection with a 10th-place result.

Jackson freshman Jacie Chatham (20:32) was Jackson’s fifth and final point scorer. She placed 17th in the 103-runner field.

Cornish finished off a career that includes All-State selections in both 3A and 4A, two team state championships in 3A and another team title in 4A.

“It’s a cool feeling to see all the work you put in and then to come away with these results,” she said.

Cornish has had a variety of teammates in her four years in the program. Her underclassmen years featured the “Fab 5” Class of 2017 that placed fourth in the 2016 Northwest regional against some of the nation’s top high school teams. That team boasted five seniors who all went on to run in college.

Cornish has been one of the few upperclassmen on the team the past two seasons. It’s rare to have the talent at the top like the Fab 5 teams did with the nation’s fourth-fastest runner, Anna Gibson, in 2016. But Cornish said this team dominates in a different way.

“Those teams, there were a few really fast runners and the rest of us were a little farther off,” Cornish said of her freshman and sophomore years. “This year’s team, we’re all really close to each other, which is really exciting. It was more of a compact group of runners.”

Jackson’s average time between its top five runners was 30 seconds faster than Cody on Saturday. And any of those top five could have been replaced with Jackson’s sixth or seventh runners and the Broncs would have still easily run away with the championship trophy. All seven of Jackson’s runners finished in the top third of the 103-runner field. It also didn’t hurt that Daval, Brigham and Chatham each posted personal-best times Saturday.

Jackson will lose Cornish, Daval and Lily Brazil — who placed 29th — to graduation in the spring. The losses will certainly hurt, but there’s no reason to believe Jackson can’t make it five out of six in 2019. Brazil and the Broncs have proven over and over that they don’t rebuild, they just reload.

Contact Clark Forster at 732-7065, or @JHNGsports.

Sports Editor Chance Cook has lived in rural Pennsylvania, upstate New York and Butte, Montana. He is no stranger to spending time in the woods chasing animals. If you see him out, challenge him to a game of pool. Send tips and questions.

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