Kettle Falls girls cross country trailblaze a state contending program

Taylor Newquist
Sports Editor

Kettle Falls cross country teams never had enough participation to field a full squad for most of the programs’ history, but in the last two years, the Bulldog girls and head coach Matt Edwards have built a state contentious program seemingly out of nowhere.
Looking back to 2016, the Kettle Falls girls had two runners that would go from being a freshman to seniors on the current 2019 team. They had four runners throughout the season, and the next year added a fifth, but still couldn’t field a full team.
In 2018, the girls’ team grew to seven runners. They were led by freshman Mya Edwards, who went on to finish No. 15 at the 1B/2B state championships. At the regional meet, Kettle Falls finished in third place and earned a birth to the state championships as a team – going from unable to post a team score, to one of the best in the state in the span of a year.
“It’s been exciting to watch the team grow, as individuals and as a team,” Senior Lanie Lince said, who has been involved with Kettle Falls cross country since middle school. “It’s exciting because there’s a competitiveness where we want to beat each other, but it’s a positive competitiveness where we joke around with each other, and it’s a lot more fun.”
This season, the Bulldogs’ core from last year has been added to with even faster runners. Sophomore Edwards, along with seniors Zarah Johnson and Lince, who have been on the high school team since 2016, have been joined by sophomore Brooklyn Keenan and junior Emily Montgomery to round out their top five that make up the final team score.
Keenan moved to cross country from the Kettle Falls volleyball team this year and is currently the fifth fastest 5K runner on the team. She has improved in each meet this season, going from 26:42.0 minutes at the Nike Battle for the 509 in Cheney on Sept. 21 to 24:58.0 minutes at District 7 No. 3 in Springdale on Oct. 8.
“This is my first year doing cross country, so it’s been exciting to be on a team that has made it to state,” Keenan said. “People don’t think it’s a team sport, but it’s more of a team sport than people think.”
Montgomery transferred from Colville to Kettle Falls this year, and was a member of the Indians’ 2017 State Championship team, where she finished No. 20 in the state as a freshman.
“Everyone has been so nice to me and I feel so supported,” Montgomery said about joining the Kettle Falls team. “Going to state is really fun, as a team you all get to encourage each other and it feels like a big family.”
Montgomery, Edwards and Johnson have routinely finished 1,2,3 in their district meets this year, and are the only District 7 runners to finish sub-21 minutes. They look to do the same at the district championships at Harrington Golf Course on Oct. 26.

Find more of this story in the Oct. 16 issue of The Statesman-Examiner.