Borah High sophomore Nathan Green isn’t a big fan of the grueling challenge presented by the 5-kilometer cross country course at Eagle Island State Park.
But there’s no rule that says runners have to like it to be good at it.
Green qualified for the Nike Cross Nationals meet on his first try by taking second in the Northwest regional event on Saturday afternoon at Eagle Island. Green crossed the finish line in 15 minutes, 13.70 seconds to grab one of five automatic qualifying spots for the national meet on Dec. 1 in Portland, Oregon.
“The whole course just sucks,” Green told the Idaho Statesman, referring to the difficulty and not the quality of the course.
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Evan Holland of Ashland, Oregon, won the race in 15:10.40, and Green gave it everything he had trying to keep up with the Oregon 6A champion. Green collapsed shortly after he finished the race and had to stop during his interview with national media members to avoid puking on camera.
Green was equal parts exhausted and elated.
“I’m happy about where I placed and where I am,” Green said. “I mean, going to nationals is a huge honor, and as a sophomore that makes it even better.”
Green, the reigning 5A state cross country and 1,600-meter champion, missed all of the 2017 cross country season because of a broken growth plate in his left hip. He’s since made a remarkably quick rise to one of the best runners in the region.
“People don’t realize he’s only a sophomore and he didn’t even run last year,” Borah coach Tim Severa said. “To be able to do this, I think, is pretty outstanding.”
Green wasn’t the only Idaho runner to qualify for nationals. Thunder Ridge (Idaho Falls) junior Stetson Moss was third (15:15.20) in the boys race, and Twin Falls junior Mattalyn Geddes was fifth (17:44.5) in the girls race.
The fifth-ranked Boise High girls fell a place short of qualifying for nationals. The Braves took third with 118 points behind top-ranked Summit (Bend, Ore.) with 54 points and No. 7 Jesuit (Portland, Ore.) with 106 points.
Boise is likely to land an at-large bid to the national meet because the Northwest region was considered arguably the toughest in the nation this year with six teams among the top 20, according to dyestat.com.
Idaho has been represented at nationals on four occasions in the girls race, getting two appearances from Coeur d’Alene and one apiece from Bishop Kelly and Boise. No Idaho boys team has every qualified.
“This is the toughest region in the country on the girls side this season and our girls held their own by beating multiple ranked teams,” Boise coach Aaron Olswanger said. “They’ve earned the opportunity to extend their season by three weeks.”
The at-large bids will be announced on Saturday, Nov. 24.