A senior at Sandpoint High School, Niah Brass is co-captain of this year’s girls’ cross-country team along with Chloe Braedt. A four-year athlete in both cross country and track, Niah is the top returner and played a part in the last three years’ state cross-country teams, placing second and third on the girls’ side and achieving three regional team titles for cross country.
“As a track distance runner, Niah was the regional champion last year in 3200 and was a state competitor as a junior in 3200 and freshman year in the 4x400m relay,” said coach Angie Brass.
After graduating next spring, Niah said she would like to stay in the Pacific Northwest and study environmental science. “I love the outdoors and believe that there is much to be done to protect our environment and wildlife,” she said.
She shares that what she loves most about cross country is the team. “I've met many of my closest friends from being a part of the cross-country team,” said Niah, adding that cross country has taught her how amazing it is to be part of something bigger than herself.
“It’s taught me how to dedicate hard work to a cause in order to help you and your teammates be the best they can be and to build deep, meaningful relationships with people who are working together to accomplish a common goal.”
She is grateful to her coaches for more than just helping her to become a better athlete.
“My coaches, Matt and Angie, challenge me to be better every day, not just as a runner and teammate but also as a student, friend, daughter, sibling and just overall a better human being in every aspect of my life,” said Niah.
Senior Kieran Wilder has participated in both cross country and track since his freshman year and considers his biggest accomplishment so far to be when he had the opportunity to run cross country at state last year.
“The team was truly special, and I felt a bond to every guy on our team,” said Kieran. “For my final year of running, I hope to continue to build these bonds with every member of our team.”
Kieran will serve as the boys’ cross-country captain this year, something Coach Angie Brass said is well-deserving, citing Kieran’s consistent dedication, training and rapid movements.
Kieran plans to attend the University of Idaho for two years and then transfer to the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he will study environmental engineering.
He shares that being part of a team is the most valuable part of cross country.
“Having a connection to the rest of your teammates allows you to push yourself past what you would be able to do alone,” he said. “Having so many friends on the team, and constantly gaining new ones, makes you feel that you always have someone there for you,” he said.
And of his coaches Matt and Angie Brass, Kieran said they have changed his life profoundly.
“I have learned discipline and how to balance all the aspects of my life, academically and athletically. I have learned to use my voice and move into a leadership role, overcoming my personal insecurities to contribute for the good of the team. This wonderful team has made all the difference in my life and has taught me lessons I will use for the rest of my life and built relationships I will cherish forever.”