Organizers could stagger the starts to try and equalize the fastest runners and the slowest runners in the Cody Fox and Hounds cross country race last Friday, but no one was fast enough to outrun the raindrops in the annual event at Olive Glenn Golf and Country Club.

“I’m freezing,” said Riley Smith, winner of the girls 5-kilometer run on the soggiest of days. “I could not see the whole time.”

Even as Smith, a junior, captured the girls’ race in 19 minutes, 15 seconds, she half-thought she might drown before reaching the finish line as rain poured, wind lashed the water sideways into her face and the temperature dropped.

It was not as much fun as it could have been for Cody’s only home meet of the season. But the runners withstood the harsh conditions – in some cases running fast times.

Backed up by teammates Baylee Stafford (second in 19:47), Ava Stafford (sixth), Emmy Bower (seventh) and Ashton Powell (eighth), the Fillies easily took the team title with 24 points ahead of Buffalo’s 48.

Similarly, senior Owen Preston won the boys race in 16:40, his second-fastest clocking, with David Juergens in second place in 17:43. The Broncs won their race with 44 points, ahead of Worland’s 54.

Smith never did warm up to the weather.

“It was not good,” she said. “I did not like it.” 

Cody’s cross country runners have competed in 90-degree weather this season, but this day brought temperatures in the 40s, plus maybe a bit of a windchill factor. Baylee Stafford lamented that for their one home meet it wasn’t nice out. But she viewed the cool air, at least, as an asset.

“It was good weather to run in,” she said.

The Fox and Hounds format had runners departing the starting line at 20-second intervals, slowest runners first.

“I kind of like it,” Ava Stafford said. “It’s fun to try to catch people. It’s crazy.”

Including boys and girls middle school races, and the boys high school event, there were four races. But the weather was at its peak of awfulness during the girls high school race.

“It just kept getting worse,” Bower said.

Runners came across the finish line with mud splattering the backs of their legs, soaked through their singlets and hair twisted into knots. But they did their best to ignore the circumstances, even if some felt a chill immediately after they stopped running.

Rachel Sanchez, who had been sick for two weeks, did not relish standing around in wet clothing. Asked if she shouldn’t be on her way to start a fire, she said, “Yes, I should.”

Preston did find a dry sweatshirt and had the hood up. He was wet and happy.

“Oh, my gosh,” Preston said of his time after starting in the rear. “I felt really good.” He was OK with the format. “It’s a nice change. I like running people down. It makes you go faster.”

Juergens, a freshman, who has been a steady No. 2 for the Broncs all season behind Preston, has a personal best time of 17:24, so his 17:43 was a very good run in lousy weather and without the team tapering off from workouts.

This first year on varsity, Juergens has competed at a higher level than even he thought possible.

“No, I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. 

Junior Wyatt Becker was the third Cody scorer and placed fifth overall in the race in 17:59. He joked ahead of time that he saw a middle school runner with “a rain stick” who was going to make the water hold back in the gray clouds. But that didn’t come through and everyone in the high school races got drenched. The Fox and Hounds style suited him.

“I love passing people,” Becker said.

Spoken like a true Wyomingite, Bronc Braydon Bond, who was 15th, said bad weather doesn’t faze him.

“Temperature doesn’t bug me,” Bond said. “It gets your mind off the cold weather. I like running in the rain.”

So Bond was right in his element.

Fox and Hounds Race

Girls

Teams: 1) Cody 24; 2) Buffalo 48; 3) Worland 84; 4) Powell 110; 5) Thermopolis 116; 6) Lovell 147.

Individuals: 1) Riley Smith, 19:15; 2) Baylee Stafford, 19:47; 6) Ava Stafford, 20:37; 7) Emmy Bower, 20:38; 8) Ashton Powell, 21:01; 18) Rachel Sanchez, 22:57; 22) Ellie Osborne, 23:07; 26) Nicole Wagler, 23:30; 28) Kaya Jackson, 23:38; 57) Jariah Cogdill, 30:29.

Boys

Teams: 1) Cody 44: 2) Worland 54; 3) Powell, 75; 4) Buffalo 78; 5) Lovell 113.

Individuals: 1) Owen Preston, 16:40; 2) David Juergens, 17:43; 5) Wyatt Becker, 17:59; 15) Braydon Bond, 19:11; 23) Riley Nielson, 19:31; 27) Josh Deal, 19:51; 31) Hayden Campbell, 19:54; 36) Kyle Graham, 20:20; 52) Ian Graham, 21:46.

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