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2017 All-Area Boys XC Runner of the Year: Stetson Moss, Bonneville

Bonneville’s Stetson Moss. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

By MARLOWE HEREFORD
mhereford@postregister.com

A poster from Nike Cross Regionals Northwest is affixed to a wall in Stetson Moss’s room where he can see it every day.

Written on it are personal best times Moss aspires to reach for every year of his high school career: sub-17 for freshman year, 15:20 for sophomore year and sub-15 for his junior and senior years.

It took a three-week recovery from an early season ankle injury and competing in the NXR Northwest boys championship meet two weeks after the state meet to achieve, but Moss got his sophomore goal time: 15:17.3.

“I had some really ambitious goals for sophomore season,” Moss said. “I think I’ll definitely get below 15 for next year.”

The goal of sub-15 comes from a runner who went from a 16:28.8 personal best as a freshman to breaking the 16-minute barrier five times and recording two of the top-five fastest boys times in Idaho for any classification per athletic.net as a sophomore. A year’s difference also brought Moss from one meet win as a freshman to four as a sophomore, including the 5A District 5-6 title by a 45-second margin and the 5A individual state title by a 19-second margin. In the process, he became District 6’s first 5A individual boys state champion since Idaho Falls’s Adam Follett in 2003 and Bonneville’s first individual boys state champion since Foot Locker Nationals qualifier Jed Barta in 1998.

For ending a 5A boys state gold medal drought with accomplishments not seen from a District 6 runner in more than a decade, Moss is the Post Register’s All-Area Boys Cross-Country Runner of the Year.

The drop in times within a year—and from the beginning to end of his sophomore season—drew numerous superlatives from local coaches surveyed for all-area. Sugar-Salem head coach Brett Hill’s first glimpse of Moss was not at a cross-country meet, but at the 2015 Upper Valley Turkey Trot road race in Rexburg when Moss was an eighth grader. Moss finished right behind then Sugar-Salem senior and multiple state medalist Jace Hymas, prompting a reaction of “My word, who is this young man?” from Hill.

Two years later, Hill said Moss has “all the makings of a phenomenal runner.”

“He has hard work ethic and he’s got a lot of God given talent,” Hill said. “I’ve never seen a young man top national caliber as a sophomore. In this area, there’s been nobody and I’ve been here 30 years now.”

Moss’s sophomore season—and his big goals—had a delayed start, however, due to injuring his ankle one week into the season. He attributed it to overtraining after an extended freshman track season that did not end until the National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships in July in Lawrence, Kan. The injury worsened to the point that he could not run, and he wasn’t certain when he would return.

“I didn’t know if I was gonna be ready by Bob Firman,” Moss said. “I just hoped I would be.”

He took three weeks to recover, completing cross-training exercises such as swimming and aqua jogging at Apple Athletic Club every day after school. He still attended meets to watch younger sister and Rocky Mountain Middle School eighth grader, Jessica, compete as well as his Bonneville teammates.

Moss said it was tough to be a spectator, but he studied the athletes during those races in ways he had never done before. He observed race strategies, and he took them to heart.

“It’s interesting to see in the early sprint off how things play out and who ends up winning, where they position themselves to be in place to win,” Moss said.

Moss returned for Bob Firman, where he ran 15:35.7 for 11th place in his first appearance in the elite boys race. Two wins, two more sub-16 times and three weeks later, he was at the 5A state meet with a modified pre-race routine. Sitting alone wearing headphones, he listened to audio versions of psychology books.

Moss’s father Daryl introduced him to books such as “How Bad Do You Want It: Mastering the Psychology of Mind over Muscle” by Matt Fitzgerald earlier this season. He has been reading them since, and he learned that 4A state runner-up Zach Erikson of Idaho Falls reads some of the same books.

“They all talk about mind over body,” Moss said. “I listen to certain parts of them before a race.”

Bonneville head coach Alan Dopp said he was not surprised that Moss developed this new pre-race routine, and said it is a credit to him for taking the initiative.

“He has his own built in, ‘This is what I want to do to be successful,’” Dopp said. “You have to be able to think it before you can do it.”

Moss plans to take some time off this month before resuming cross-training to prepare for track. While he has the poster in his room to remind him of his future goals, he said it was “pretty amazing” to end District 6’s 5A boys individual state title drought this fall.

“There’s some pretty incredible athletes in this area,” Moss said. “It means a lot.”

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