TWIN FALLS — This past fall, Alyse Douglas and Kami Withers were unsure if their running careers would continue past high school. That uncertainty is now gone.
The Twin Falls High School seniors signed with the College of Southern Idaho cross country team. On Monday afternoon, they held a signing ceremony to celebrate their commitments to the junior college down the street.
“I didn’t know where I was gonna go a couple weeks ago,” Withers said at the ceremony. “I just liked what I saw at CSI and went with it, so I’m pretty excited.”
Douglas and Withers have known each other and run together since elementary school, so signing together made Monday’s ceremony extra special. Their decisions, however, were made independently.
CSI head cross country coach Lindsey Anderson reached out to both runners during this past cross country season. Withers said she had talked with cross country coaches at College of Idaho and Idaho State, and Douglas was considering Boise State as a student only. Anderson provided the only true ticket to a college running career.
Douglas and Withers didn’t need much prodding to sign with the Golden Eagles.
“I get to experience a new level of running, but also not have the pressure of being away from home,” Douglas said. “Seeing how good Lindsey has done with her team and how accomplished they been this year definitely helped.”
Douglas had a tough senior season. Her times didn’t meet her expectations, and she attributed the struggles to some physical and mental exhaustion. Less than a year ago, her father died at the age of 50.
Douglas labored through the rest of junior year, and the pain hasn’t gone away. Support from her mother, her brother and her running teammates has helped her cope.
“It was a really rough time for me, but they were all right behind me,” she said.
Withers said this was her first injury-free season, and her results bore that out. She earned top five finishes in six of her 10 races, including three second-place finishes. At the 4A state championship meet, she placed fifth with a personal best time of 19:22.2.
“I didn’t know that I wanted to run in college, at first,” she said. “But after this year, I realized that I really do love running and competing, so I really wanted to continue and get better and reach different goals.”
CSI concluded its first cross country season this century with a strong performance at the NJCAA Division I championship. The women’s team finished fourth, the men finished sixth and Eric Fitzpatrick won the men’s individual race.
The 2017 Golden Eagles featured several runners from south central Idaho, but none from Twin Falls. The Bruin boys have won three straight Great Basin Conference titles, and the girls have won four in a row. The girls also finished second at state this fall.
“This year, I really wanted to bring on some (runners) specifically from Twin Falls and the area here, just to see if we could get even more of the community involvement and support,” Anderson said at Monday’s ceremony.