Smoke and haze from the recent fires is visible in the background as members of Blackfoot High School's cross country team make a run up Ferry Butte mile in Fort Hall recently. Cross country coach Brint Jefferis received special access from the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe's land use department to allow the team to train on reservation land.
BLACKFOOT â€” Blackfoot High School's (BHS) new head cross country coach Brint Jefferis has set a goal to qualify his team for the state competition this school year. A new training routine on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation is hopefully giving the team the cutting edge that they need to do it.
While new to the BHS cross country team, Jefferis is the high school's tennis coach and also a physical education teacher for Fort Hall Elementary School. He is familiar with the terrain on the reservation and saw it to be ideal training ground for the team.
"I applied through the Land Department of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to get permission for the team to train on the land and am very pleased that we got approved," Jefferis said.
The team trains on Ferry Butte mile once a week which Jefferis describes as "straight up one mile from top to bottom with a panoramic view" and at the Fort Hall Diversion Dam twice a week which is good, hilly terrain.
"My own daughter was a state champion cross country runner in 1996 and she trained on this reservation land," Jefferis said. "I thought, since there are no hills in Blackfoot, what better terrain?"
Jefferis said that Ferry Butte was a little intimidating to the runners at first but that they now "they are really going for it."
"We've been training here for almost two months and it is helping; .I'm really seeing some improvement," he added. "This should make a difference in our competitions."
Jefferis said he is thankful to the Fort Hall land department for allowing them to use the land and that he and assistant coach Shauna Wheelwright welcome Native American runners to join the team if they are enrolled at Blackfoot High School.
Members of this year's BHS cross country boy's team include Nathaniel Wheelwright, Jonathan Peck, Gregory Drake, Dennis Wright, Cooper Hepworth, Peyton Astele, Kohl Bingham, Paul Cannon, Sam Neilson, Benji Bigler, Austin Williams and Ryson Hughes.
The girl's team includes Taylor Diaz, Stephanie Zehntner, Rachel Cannon, Christine McPhie, Rachel McPhie and Abby Horak.