GOODING — Gooding High School senior Tegan Baumann started his cross country career a little late, but that did not stop him from leaving his mark on the sport.
Baumann, who did not participate in the sport until his junior year, signed his letter of intent to run at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston on Thursday.
After playing football in the fall of his freshmen and sophomore years, he decided to give cross country a try.
“I could naturally run a little bit, but I didn’t know how good I was going to be,” he said.
Things did not start out smoothly. Transitioning to a different sport that puts a unique strain on the body was not easy. But as he kept at it, he saw improvement.
Baumann placed 22nd at the 2018 Class 3A state meet with a time of 17:16.8. Over the course of 2019, he took even more leaps and bounds, coming in at eighth place in the class and finishing with a time of 16:53.23.
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The Gooding boys placed second as a team in the state meet behind Sugar-Salem. The Senators were led by junior Owen Rogers, who placed third. Baumann was second on the team with his eighth-place finish.
“I think he’s only going to get a lot better from here,” Rogers said of Baumann. “To go to college with only two years of running is amazing.”
Baumann said running college cross country wasn’t even on his mind the first year he tried the sport. But as the success kept coming during his senior year and he got looks from schools, he decided to keep on running.
He said he valued the camaraderie he built up with his high school teammates, and he will miss that once he graduates.
“The team and the chemistry is a lot different than any other I’ve been on,” he said. “The kids on there are like my best friends. We always hang out after running.”
The Senators will graduate a strong group of senior runners from their runner-up team heading into next year, but Rogers will be back for one more season, as will Carter McLaughlin, who placed 13th at state.