Inland Empire Challenge Recap: Post Falls' Wood Runs Massive PR to Win Fourth Race This Season

Match-up of Top Runners in the State Goes in Favor of Junior Standout.

Bonneville's Alivia Johnson (253) and Post Falls' Samantha Wood (301) racing in the Inland Empire Challenge at Lewiston Orchards on Saturday, October 3, 2020. (Keenan Gray/The Runner WA)

LEWISTON, ID - It was the race everyone was looking forward to. Not just at this meet, but around the state as well.

Post Falls' Samantha Wood versus Bonneville's Alivia Johnson; two of Idaho's most elite runners this cross country season would go to battle at the Inland Empire Challenge in Lewiston on Saturday.

For both runners, it was the first time all year where they would be racing against someone with the same talent, but at the end of the day, it was the veteran runner who would take home the win.

After a tightly contested first two miles, Post Falls' Wood used her experience of the course at Lewiston Orchards to win the girl's race in a new personal best time of 17:49.

"I was really excited for this race since I really love this meet," said Wood. "We came here three times my freshman year, and I know it's a fast course."

This was the first time all season Wood had finally someone to race against with Johnson in company, making this race an even more exciting opportunity for the Post Falls' junior to showcase her talents.

"It was cool having her there with me," said Wood. "I really liked it because it's so much harder mentally on your own with pacing yourself. But the previous races where I had raced on my own, it definitely had strengthened me for today."

Wood's new personal best time now ranks her third in the state behind Boise's very talented freshmen duo, Samantha Smith and Allie Bruce.

With all three girls in the 5A classification, this is the making of a very exciting state championship race when Halloween weekend rolls around.

To this point, the state meet appears to be a go on the weekend of Halloween because of the success meets have had this year due to the pandemic going on the last six months.

"I'm just really excited for state and we just get to have it," said Wood. "Not knowing if we would have one or not, every meet my team and I have ran in we have treated it like it's been our last, but it looks like there is hope on horizon."

Bonneville's Johnson was also able to pick up a new personal best time despite finishing in second running in 18:15. Johnson was undefeated in her previous five races this season.

McCall-Donnelly's Sophie McManus was third running 18:47.

Fourth ranked Post Falls came away with the team title scoring 27 points led by Wood. Anna Peters (4th, 18:51), Kaley Bohl (6th, 19:31), Alahna Lien (8th, 19:52), and Leah Holding (12th, 20:29) were the other scorers for the Trojans.

Elliana Rietze (19:26) and Anne Marie Dance (20:10) of Couer d'Alene placed fifth and 10th for the second place Vikings.

Sandpoint was third scoring 90 points with Megan Ouman as there top runner placing 14th in 20:41.