Idaho Falls, ID - With the absence of the defending 4A state champion, Idaho Falls' Zac Bright, at the 2020 Tiger/Grizz Invite, the field in the Varsity A Boy's race appeared to be completely wide open.
Bright's teammate Mitchell Athay and Pocatello's Shane Gard were next in line to be the favorites heading into the race and were ready to put on a great showdown.
Or so we thought.
In a huge statement victory in Freeman Park on Saturday, September 12, Madison's Will Dixon won his second race of the season in a come-from-behind fashion running a 5k time of 16:18.
Idaho Falls' Athay took full control of the race from the start and hung onto the lead for two-miles. Trailing the front runner was Pocatello's Gard, and then Dixon, who came into the race mentally relaxed and just ran how the race went.
"I wanted to see what the field was like after about mile one," said Dixon. "Going into mile two, I knew that it was going to be pretty bad with all the uphill's."
It wasn't out of the question as to whether or not Dixon could come away with a victory, but without Idaho Falls' Bright racing, the opportunity opened itself for the Bobcats top runner.
Going past mile two, Dixon was well in sight of Athay and felt this was the perfect opportunity to make his move and get past the Tigers top runner for good, even if it meant hurting a ton on the uphill's.
"Once I heard Zac (Bright) wasn't running, I knew I had a pretty good chance to win," said Dixon. "I just kept grinding up the hills and I figured I'd go for it, and once I was gaining on Mitchell (Athay), I just decided to leave it all out there."
Dixon feels this was probably his biggest win of his high school career given he has only won two of them, all of which have occurred in the last three weeks.
He also managed to lead the Bobcats to an impressive second-place team finish scoring 72 points and only losing to top-ranked Idaho Falls by five points, and defeating Pocatello by three points.
"We have been training hard this offseason," said Dixon on his teams performance. "All summer we have been putting in good miles and the results are starting to show up."
Pocatello's Gard finished in second running 16:27.3 leading the Indians to a third place team finish. Other top runners from the Indians were Brevin Vaughan (6th, 16:54.2) and Sunny Gunn (15th, 17:16.1).
Athay led first place Idaho Falls with a third place finish running 16:36.2. Joseph Ereaux was fifth running 16:48.3 and Richard Stewart and Porter Elison were 16th and 17th running 17:17.3 and 17:21.7 for the Tigers as well.
Highland of Pocatello's Jared Harden was fourth running 16:47.3.
Defending 2A state cross country champion Johnathon Simmons of Salmon used all of his efforts to come away with the win in the Varsity B Boy's race running a time of 16:34.5 getting his second win of the season.
Without any other big schools to race against, Simmons felt this was going to be mentally tough to push through since there wasn't a ton of competition to race up front with him.
"All I could think about was not having those 4A and 5A schools in our race," said Simmons on his pre-race thinking. "It was a really hard race for me mentally because without those top athletes, I didn't know if that were going to affect my racing ability at all."