PHS harriers compete at NXR Regionals

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Antonino captures 19th place

BOISE, IDAHO – The 2022 cross-country season continued for members of the Jackson Hole High School (JHHS) team, including Pinedale High School (PHS) sophomores Madison Antonino and Cora Koci.

The team competed at the Nike Cross (NXR) Northwest Regional Championships near Boise, Idaho, on Saturday, Nov. 12. Top-ranked athletes from Alaska, Hawai’i, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming contended for the top five spots in the championship division and a ticket to the NXR Nationals.

Antonino snagged 19th place out of 157 athletes in the girls’ championship race, clocking in at 18 minutes, 38.60 seconds. The 2022 All-State honoree was the first Wyoming runner to cross the finish line, beating the state champion, Cheyenne Central High School senior Sydney Morrell, by more than 25 seconds.

Koci competed in the girls’ open division, section II (varsity), and placed 192nd out of 267 entries in a race consisting of some of the fastest runners from across the region. Koci posted a time of 23:59.90, her personal record for the season.

Head JHHS Cross-Country Coach Jeff Brazil described the racing conditions as “perfect for running” on Saturday, with temperatures in the 30s and “no wind to speak of.”

Koci and her teammates in the girls’ open division attacked the first mile at a “fast pace,” on course to complete the 5-kilometer course in less than 24 minutes, said Brazil. Koci hit her stride with a “strong” second mile timed in at 7:54, he added.

Koci bounded across the finish line with a “big personal record,” achieving her goal of breaking 24 minutes with a second to spare, Brazil said.

Antonino “crushed it off the (starting line),” pulling into the lead pack right away, said Brazil.

Posting 5:40 for the first mile, Antonino maintained her spot within the top 20.

“Her 5:40 was pretty much what she would be looking for to remain competitive with these girls that were made up of the top runners from Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Hawai’i and Alaska,” Brazil said. “I knew there would not be a lot of backing off from (Antonino) – she was committed to this race plan.”

Antonino reached the 2-mile mark at 11:40, pushing through the churned-up racecourse and “kept her focus and kept pushing to stay aggressive,” Brazil stated.

Antonino picked off Morrell in the second mile and moved up to 19th place as she approached the finish line.

Brazil said the race was a good “dress rehearsal” for Antonino to set her sights on breaking into the top five next year.

“What a great ending to an amazing season for Maddy,” said Brazil.