Saturday, Boothby will be among the favorites at the NWAC Championships at Chambers Bay near Tacoma. She has a shot to become the first Clark woman to win an NWAC cross country title. She might also break the meet record of 17:51 set by Jessica Mildes of Spokane CC in 2013.
Clark head coach Owen Frasier said he has been fielding calls about Boothby from several Division I coaches in recent weeks.
What’s the reason Boothby took her running to a new level? Frasier said a unique feature of cross country let Boothby prove that she can hang with top-flight collegiate runners.
Instead of competing against just other NWAC athletes, the cross country team enters regional events that draw larger programs from across the West.
“She definitely got pushed on a level that she’s never been pushed before,” Frasier said.
Once the starting gun goes off, there’s nothing stopping a small-college runner from trying to match pace with the best. That’s what Boothby has done.
“I’ve always been ambitious with my races,” Boothby said. “On my first few I overestimated my capabilities and went out a little too fast. But I’m at that point in my training this season where I can go out that fast.”
Having a breakout career at Clark before moving on to greatness is something Boothby’s family knows about.
Her father, Scott Boothby, broke the NWAC record in the hammer throw by 18 feet in 1995, less than two years after the Mountain View High graduate picked up the event.
Boothby went on to compete in the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Olympic Trials and finished fourth at the 2005 national championships.
Sydnee Boothby believes starting at Clark allowed her to build strength and confidence in a way she might not have at a larger program.
“I wasn’t really ready for D1 at the start of this year,” Boothby said. “Starting at a community college has helped me learn where I fit in collegiate racing. One day I’ll be ready to run D1. I’m getting close to that point.”
Boothby isn’t sure if she’ll join a Division I program next season or spend her sophomore year at Clark. She hopes to major in computer science and is looking for a school that fits her academic goals.
But in the near term, Boothby is hoping to lead the Clark women to their first NWAC team championship since 2010.
Fellow Clark freshman Dani Buttrell, who finished second at the NWAC South Regional Championships, said Boothby has elevated the entire team.
“It’s been a privilege to see her work ethic and performance,” Buttrell said. “It’s been great to see what she can do. Just super impressed and excited for her.”
Buttrell, who ran for Fort Vancouver High, helped the Penguins easily win the regional title with a perfect score of 15 points. That has the Clark women aiming for what would be a fourth NWAC championship in program history.
“It’s a big goal,” Buttrell said. “We’re fully capable of doing it. It’s not going to be easy, but we’ve been putting in the work and I’d like to see what that pulls out of us.”
As for Boothby, she’s hoping to run the best she can.
“I want to see if I can PR again,” she said. “I can probably get low 17s again. I’d like to get first place. But whatever competition there is I’m really excited for it.”