Mattalyn Geddes describes herself as a shy person, and she thinks she runs better when she has someone to chase.
The 2017 cross country season was tough on both fronts for her.
The Twin Falls High School sophomore won eight of the nine races she competed in this past fall, and the one race she didn’t win was her best — her time of 18:00.54 at the Bob Firman Invitational set a Twin Falls girls cross country record.
Other than the seventh place finish at the Bob Firman, Geddes never had to chase. Thus, the accolades, including the Times-News girls cross country runner of the year, piled up. She isn’t dissatisfied with her success, but she would have preferred less attention and more competition.
“I was kinda sick of winning every race,” Geddes said. “I know that might sound bad, but Bob Firman was my best just because I had competition, and it was more exciting.”
Geddes moved from Wyoming to Twin Falls prior to this school year, after her father took a new job. Bruins head cross country head coach Marty Grindstaff had access to her results online, so he knew he was getting a special runner for his final season.
He quickly discovered the level she was on.
“She’s probably the most talented girl we’ve ever had in the program,” Grindstaff said. “It was a stroke a luck that she moved into our school.”
Geddes doesn’t have a secret or a unique trait that separates her, Grindstaff said. She works hard and she’s extremely talented. Runners don’t need much else.
Geddes was so far ahead of her peers, Grindstaff had to adjust her training early in the season. She ran with the boys during practice for most of the year, and though she was two-plus minutes behind the Bruins’ best male runners, she could contend with some of them.
Her dominance wasn’t confined to Twin Falls, or even south central Idaho. Geddes won her eight races against runners from across the state, and she received essentially zero pressure. In the 4A state championship meet, she took first place by more than 12 seconds.
“You kinda felt like you weren’t doing her justice, but there wasn’t anything you could do about it,” Grindstaff said.
Geddes’ only taste of chase came at the Bob Firman, a race with 140 teams from Idaho and neighboring states. The meet brought back memories of her freshman year, when she raced for Jackson Hole (Wyo.) High School.
Last year, Geddes wasn’t the best runner in the state, at her level, in her area or even at her school. She ran in the shadow of her teammate Anna Gibson, a 4A state champion who now runs for Brown University.
“(She) was always in the spotlight,” Geddes said, “and that was perfectly fine.”
Geddes won’t be able to escape the spotlight anytime soon, barring an injury or something unforeseen. She’s not about to decrease her work ethic, so the gap between her and the other 4A girls in Idaho will almost certainly increase.
She’ll continue to be chased.