Four Powell Panther distance runners got a unique opportunity to compete at the Nike Cross Regionals Northwest on Nov. 11 in Boise, Idaho. The quartet included juniors Kinley Cooley and Kenna …
Four Powell Panther distance runners got a unique opportunity to compete at the Nike Cross Regionals Northwest on Nov. 11 in Boise, Idaho. The quartet included juniors Kinley Cooley and Kenna Jacobsen alongside their freshmen sisters Karee Cooley and Ashlee Jacobsen in a field of over 900 runners.
Going on the trip was a fun experience for all four runners, with the Cooleys and Jacobsens also being cousins, attending one of the largest cross country meets in the region.
“It was really fun getting to travel with our cousins to Boise because we all like to laugh a lot and it kept the experience light-hearted and fun,” Kenna said.
Despite having fun as a group of four on the trip, they also pointed out that it was noticeably different from traveling with the team they had grown close with throughout the season that ended just weeks earlier.
“For me, it was really weird for just the four of us to be traveling because it is usually us on a bus with 25 other people,” Kinley said. “However, it was a lot easier for us to be organized and plan things that everyone was happy with. I think that we also had an easy time bonding and having conversations about our nerves or how we are going to strategize for the race — I think that made the trip seem more intimate.”
Ashlee Jacobsen noted that it was a fun experience to travel with her family to the Nike event, but also added that it was weird to travel without the whole Panther team.
The switch from competing in fields in Wyoming that had 100-200 runners — the state meet for the 3A girls had only 96 runners — can be a challenge, as the meet in Boise had just over 900.
“The environment was insane to be in, just a bunch of runners all trying to have a little fun,” Ashlee said. “It was not what I expected at all and the experience I gained from that race as a freshman who hadn’t competed in any huge races like that before will last me my whole running career.”
Leading the way for the Panther racers who entered in the open field as a team under P-Town XC was Kinley — finishing in 64th with a time of 20:02.6.
“Going into the race I felt like I had something to prove after a state performance that I wasn’t particularly happy with, and I felt like it was a perfect way to close my season,” she said. “Even though I didn’t run a PR, I was extremely proud of how I handled the new competition and a course with things we don’t have at Wyoming cross country meets.”
The second runner across for Powell was sister Karee, who finished in 139th with a 20:38.5.
Third across was Kenna, finishing in 214th with a 21:08.
“It was a breath of fresh air competing against a large number of people because throughout the season we were competing against the same people over and over and raced next to the same people; it made it really nice racing against someone who I’ve never seen before and probably will never see again,” she said.
Rounding out the squad was Ashlee, who finished in 543rd with a 23:12.5, with the younger Jacobsen using distance to help springboard her middle distance racing moving forward.
“For me, distance isn’t my race,” she said. “I am a 400 runner so competing in distance events isn’t as important. I mainly just use distance racing to keep me used to racing and in shape before I get into indoor and outdoor track.”
INSPIRING TOP COMPETITION
For the group, being able to head to the regional meet allowed them to see some of the top runners in the western part of the United States, with the top time in their division finishing with an 18:25 and the top runners in the championship division finishing with 16:53s.
“These super fast girls were a little intimidating,” Kinley said. “But seeing those girls who run a sub 18-minute 5K was extremely inspiring. It makes me feel like one day I could be competing at their level.”
Entering as a freshman, Ashlee continues to find inspiration in fast runners, noting that it was incredible to see so many fast runners in one place.
“I love watching people run and to see that many fast runners all in one place was incredible,” she said. “You may not know the names of every runner but you still get to see them on a personal level running the same course as you.”
As juniors, Kinley and Kenna saw the importance of getting exposure in a new environment while looking towards the future.
“I think this race opened up an opportunity for us to be exposed to other coaches and other people that could help us move towards collegiate running,” Kinley said.
The group is expected to continue running even as the weather grows colder, likely looking towards the indoor season starting in January as they continue to recover from a strong fall season while maintaining their base distance levels indoors.